Within the halls of recovery, this time of year is referred to as “The Trifecta” – Thanksgiving, Christmas, and The New Year. Rehabilitation centers in Massachusetts have a heightened awareness of holiday triggers. What is typically a joyous and exciting time of year for most, is an otherwise difficult and dangerous time of year for the alcoholic and addicted individuals in recovery.
There are many reasons for this. Some are obvious, others more subtle. The big reason that jumps out is ‘The Holiday Party’. All of the three major holidays at year’s end are associated with feasts and festivals. With all three come pressures to drink and revel in celebratory behavior.
Be it a midnight toast on the arrival of the New Year, or a glass of spiked eggnog after a hearty holiday dinner, for the person in recovery a fun and spirited event can turn quickly into a feeling of playing Russian Roulette with our sanity and sobriety.
Another common trigger for addicted people during this time of year is participation in the reunion of our families and closest friends. Objectively speaking, this aspect of the holiday season should invoke feelings of warm gratitude and love. But, realistically, it is often a forced reminder of some of the more difficult relationships in our lives.
It is all too easy to get caught up in the stressors of the season – its long lines of exhausted and frantic holiday shoppers…its pressures for a picture-perfect pageantry of peace and plenty. We must be on high alert during this overwhelming and emotional time. We must take certain steps to nurture care for our sobriety and ourselves.
Luckily, there are great options for people in recovery during this tumultuous time. Self-help groups play host to ‘marathon meetings’ on and around the holidays. These groups will band together for a continuous 24-48 hour recovery meeting, ensuring that people have a safe place to gather. Often, food and non-alcoholic drinks are served.
Many recovering people will host a ‘family’ get together of their own. In this way, they can still celebrate the holidays with other, like-minded individuals, and not feel pressured to be with people or in a place that may be unsafe for them. It is a time of year that can prove challenging, but also one that beckons gratitude and community.
No matter your plans, stay safe during this busy time of year. Have an ‘out’ for any possible scenario or situation that could turn dangerous, and stay connected with a community of people who understand how chaotic and difficult this time of year can be.
Happy Holidays from our family to yours here at Right Turn!
Immediately, we begin to think of scenarios that are more in-tune with a genie granting us wishes from a magical lamp. But the question is geared toward more realistic interpretation. What are some problems in my life that I would like to see solved? What are some attainable goals and aspirations that I would like to achieve?
The answers that come from this seemingly simple scenario vary greatly, but there are commonalities. More often than not, in the life of an addicted person, the miracle lends itself to the idea of living a life without the use of drugs and alcohol. The “miracle” can actually be an attainable reality with the support of addiction intervention services.
Also common are expressions of wanting to repair fractured or strained relationships. Many people come up with ideas for their version of an ideal job, or the wish to go back to school to study something that they love. The ability and freedom to travel often come up…the goal of one day owning a house, of having a family of our own.
If we take a step back, and view these ‘miracle’ outcomes from an objective point of view, they seem to take on the characteristic of being entirely possible. So often, amidst the stress and expectations of a very busy world, we focus on all the things that we cannot do, rather than the things that we can.
When we scrutinize the outcomes of the miracle question further, we begin to see that much of the work of recovery centers on achieving the very things that we are certain only a ‘miracle’ can provide.
We mend relationships in recovery. We work toward aspirations in our occupations, or we re-enroll in school. Freedom from addiction allows us the experience of travel, most certainly. We learn to live as responsible, productive adults – buying homes, starting families.
When we recognize the need for addiction intervention services, we start the journey toward freedom from the bondage of addiction, and the world begins to offer hope and promise once again. We come to understand the “miracle” as the gift of sobriety, and we begin to put days of miraculous sobriety together. We learn to live in a way that embodies what we once believed could only be a dream.
Right Turn offers a range of expressive therapy groups as an integral part of our programming. Art Therapy, Journaling, Music Group and others, offer clients a range of opportunities in which to discover important personal meaning. The creative process promotes healing, renewal, and creative connections to self. It allows for spontaneity, self-discovery, and self-expression — all vital components of recovery. A thoughtful engagement in the creative process helps to rebuild the identity that is often stripped away by active addiction.
Through expressive therapy, we create images and objects that conjure thoughts, feelings, and ideas that are not necessarily available to us in words. What happens when we face a blank page of paper? How do we react to our mistakes? How are those mistakes addressed? What kind of feelings arise during its creation? How do we find meaning within our creation?
We begin to process and answer these questions within the group model. What happens during our creative process is similar to how we move through life’s many other tasks. Understanding our patterns can be incredibly revealing and healing.
There is a growing body of scientific evidence linking the therapeutic value of creativity within the addicted brain. The brain stores information in images. Working with imagery helps to organize and process stored information. Because art therapy accesses different parts of the brain than talk therapy, the brain creates new neural pathways, resulting in increased functionality and healing.
The multi-model approach to expressive therapy is a highly effective way to engage clients in the work of recovery. Creative expression facilitates growth and healing. It helps us to reconnect to our creative spirit. And, most importantly, it allows us to experience a little bit of FUN in treatment!
Jen Ziefert, MPS, ATR
Registered Art Therapist & Mental Health Counselor
On October 27th, The Royale Theater in Boston played host to the 8th Annual SuperGroup, to benefit addiction and mental health services at Right Turn! Thanks to the incredibly talent musicians who played their hearts our for Right Turn, and to YOU, our loving and faithful supporters, we were able to raise substantial funds that will go directly into enhancing the important resources that we offer through our Intensive Outpatient, Transitional Housing, and Medication Assisted Treatment Programs.
Performers included Grammy Award winners, Joan Osborne, and Paula Cole – both women unleashing larger-than-life vocals that left the enthusiastic crowd breathless. A one-two punch from the legendary musical mecca of New Orleans, Louisiana, brought us the electrified styling of “Superfunk” superstar, Trombone Shorty, while unparalleled soul-singer, Glen David Andrews, performed with passion and uplifting energy that was palpable. A mainstay as bandleader on Saturday Night Live for several years, G.E. Smith was in attendance, dazzling the crowd with his prowess on the guitar, with longtime Right Turn family member, Bad Company’s own Simon Kirke, behind the drum kit for much of the night.
And that’s just for starters. Other performers included Right Turn’s founder, Woody Giessmann, expert on everything-drums, Jon Cohan, Boston bluesman, James Montgomery, Boston Music Award Winner, Shea Rose, beloved local legend, Chris Trapper…and the list goes on and on. Jasper White catered the event, and we haven’t stopped hearing praise about the amazing seafood chowder and finger-foods that he provided. And of course – there was Steve Sweeney. Steve never fails to entertain and keep the crowd in stitches, and this night was no different.
We only regret that there is not enough space to include all of the personal thanks that are in order to all of our friends and family who made this incredible event possible. From the bottom of our hearts, we say, “THANK YOU”. We cannot properly express the gratitude we feel to be part of such a wonderful community.
Woody Giessmann/Right Turn
But it is a different event altogether for adults.
Halloween means Halloween parties – and unless you happen to be part of a transitional housing program surrounded by people also in recovery – parties usually involve serving up some spooky cocktails and spirits for guests to imbibe.
Here are 5 tips for staying sober and safe during a festive night out.
- Take a “job” at the party! Ask the host if you can help out. Man the stereo and manage the music playlist. Greet people at the front door. Handle the coat-check duties. Really, anything will do. It is helpful to the host, and provides a good opportunity to chat with other guests. (Do not volunteer to be the bartender!)
- Give out candy! While the grown-ups are doing their thing inside, take some time to enjoy the fun costumes and smiles of trick or treaters in the neighborhood.It is a great way to re-connect with the spirit of the holiday. No one enjoys Halloween like children do!
- Bring a different kind of drink or dish to the party! Autumn comes with great food and drink ideas. Hot apple cider can be a much more enticing option than alcohol when the weather is crisp and cold. Serve some sort of Halloween-themed dish or drink. Your host and fellow party-goers will appreciate the effort.
- Come up with a game for the partygoers! Charades, Pictionary, Cranium, Scattergories – there are endless choices for fun group games. Being the “game-leader” provides a great opportunity to separate from any inclination to have a drink, and it is a great way to meet other people.
- Throw your OWN party! If you’re part of a transitional housing program, there’s no doubt that your Halloween festivities will be sober ones. But the truth is, a sober party can happen anywhere. And a sober party does not equal a boring party. Adults appreciate the nostalgia of the holiday, too. A good-old-fashioned costume party is often more inviting than a house full of loud, drunk guests.
Remember – sobriety is a journey that is traveled one day at a time. Halloween is no different. It is truly ‘just another day’. Make the day fun, and bring a sober friend to enjoy the great events on Halloween.
Be it a haunted house, or a costume parade – communities everywhere provide ample opportunities to celebrate Halloween in a safe and sober setting.
Happy Halloween from all of us at Right Turn!