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New Year, New You: Staying Sober in 2022

by Matthew Wexler

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday December 23, 2021

New Year, New You: Staying Sober in 2022
  (Source:Getty Images)

"It's the most wonderful time of the year," or so the song says. But for many facing addiction or even in recovery, the holidays and New Year can be as stressful as they are joyous. Add the latest coronavirus variant into the mix, and the challenging family dynamics often faced by LGBTQ+ individuals, and the season to celebrate has the potential to plummet. Fortunately, simple but thoughtful choices can help make the coming weeks a time to rest, rejuvenate, and revitalize for the year ahead.

Nationally recognized addiction treatment center Recovery Unplugged helps people from all walks of life get (and stay) sober through the innovative use of music throughout the recovery process. The effects of music in substance abuse treatment have been scientifically studied, and when combined with other modalities and a consistent support system, sobriety can last a lifetime.

While there's no singular solution to maintaining sobriety, whether during the holidays or any other time of the year, Recovery Unplugged's Fort Lauderdale alumni coordinator Chace Andrea says creating community can have a huge impact.

"From my personal experience, community was everything," says Chace. "Community can make or break a situation for sure. I first went to treatment at 15 or 16; when I got home, I didn't have any contact with my sober community. My old 'friends' that I was using with sucked me back into that lifestyle. This time, I was able to stick with the sober community and stay involved in program."

Chace identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ community, acknowledging that the coming out process and family and social environments can amplify feelings of loneliness and despair. Pre-COVID, Chace says Recovery Unplugged alumni events often attracted upwards of 75 people. During pandemic times, online meetings, events, text messages and phone calls have all helped clients stay sober.

Stressed or Addicted?

We're all capable of talking ourselves in or out of many situations, but when it comes to addiction, getting real is the first step toward long-term sobriety. If you're asking yourself if you have a drug or alcohol problem, there's a good chance that something needs to be addressed. You might even feel guilty or shameful for finding yourself without a job or enough money to pay your bills. The time will come to deal with all of those emotions, but first and foremost, know that your life is valuable and you are loved.

Recovery Unplugged shares detailed physical and behavioral signs of addiction — take a look at the list and consider how many characteristics apply to you. The first step toward recovery is admitting you have a problem, and there's always someone at Recovery Unplugged just a phone call away (855-909-8818) to guide you through next steps.

Why LGBTQ+-Affirming Addiction Treatment is So Important

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There's a delicate balance in acknowledging the specific challenges facing the queer community. Deeply buried traumas relating to gender identity and sexual orientation, work discrimination, social stigmas, and civil rights collectively contribute to the false belief that we're "less than" our straight counterparts.

But there's also the danger of projecting an attitude of feeling "terminally unique," meaning you couldn't possibly believe that there's anyone else in the world who could understand what you're going through. This is where the magic of music enters the picture.

We turn to music to unleash feelings and emotions that might otherwise be difficult to express. While drugs and alcohol act as a form of escapism, dulling the truths that inevitably rise to the surface, music is like a pulsating, melodic excavating machine that can help free us from old thoughts and habits.

Musical artists have also expressed the power of music. Out superstar Lil Nas X tweeted of his debut album:

"creating this album has been therapy for me. i've learned to let go of trying to control people's perception of who i am, what i can do, and where i will be. i've realized the only opinion of me that really matters is my own."

A New Year's Sobriety Action Plan

(Source: Getty Images)

Whether you're living a sober life, considering addiction treatment, or simply want to put some healthy boundaries in place, here are some quick tips to not only survive but thrive during the holidays and New Year:

Set Boundaries and Stick to Them — Are you uncomfortable being at a party where alcohol is served? Do you want to be home by a specific time? Are there triggering people in your life best not seen at the holidays? Take some time to make a shortlist of "best practices" to get you through holiday and New Year's Eve gatherings. Carry it with you and share it with a close friend. It'll be easier to stick to a plan once it's written down.

Create Your Community — No need to get overwhelmed! "Community" can mean a night at home with your dog or cat. Maybe you decide to order pizza with your bestie and binge-watch your favorite TV show. Check schedules for nearby sobriety meetings or join one online.

Rethink Resolutions — We can get seriously unhinged when grandiose resolutions fall by the wayside after just a few weeks into the new year. Cast aside "resolution" and, instead, think of easy pivots you can make to recenter your life, which can be as simple as committing to making your bed in the morning or making sure the kitchen sink is clean and empty at day's end. Small steps toward self-care can have a big impact.

Create a Set of Playlists — Recovery Unplugged's treatment is rooted in the power of music. Some of our favorite openly sober artists include Ryan Cassata, Lana Del Rey, Jennifer Hudson, and Elton John, to name a few! Consider making several playlists to have on hand, depending on how you're feeling: High-energy for workouts or releasing tension, relaxing ballads to help you unwind and lyric-driven melodies that offer positive affirmations are all ways to harness music's benefits.

Gift Yourself a Special Message — Remember getting mail?! Send yourself a card with a message of encouragement. You can even schedule monthly emails to yourself using Schedule Send in Gmail or apps like Boomerang so affirmative words are only a click away.

Are you or someone you love struggling with drugs or alcohol?
Recovery Unplugged offers LGBTQ-welcoming substance abuse treatment.

Visit or call 855-909-8818.

Matthew Wexler is EDGE's Senior Editor, Features & Branded Content. More of his writing can be found at Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @wexlerwrites.