Coulee Recovery Center director lists strategies to help those in recovery stay sober during holidays

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — Data show roughly 15 million people in the United States struggle with an alcohol use disorder.

About 36 percent of alcoholics recover within the first year.

If you’re planning on going to a Christmas or New Year’s party, expect that there will be alcohol in the room.

So if you are one of those people in recovery, there are ways to get around it so that a relapse doesn’t happen.

“If they are not drinking any longer, the consumption of alcohol oftentimes can be a trigger,” said Cheryl Hancock, director of the Coulee Recovery Center in La Crosse.

Those in recovery could struggle with attending holiday gatherings where there’s alcohol, Hancock said.

To avoid drinking, you can make your own schedule, go to a support group meeting or even take your personal car to a party, she advised.

“That way they can leave if something negative occurs or if they feel a little stressed,” Hancock said.

Some families choose to not provide any alcohol at holiday gatherings.

“That meant the world to the person that I was talking to,” Hancock said.

Other resources also are available if you’re battling with mental health.

“The holidays can be tough when there are people that are dealing with a lot of isolation,” said Amy Kuester, supervisor at Great Rivers 2-1-1.

Kuester is one those on-staff ready to take your call.

You will not be judged, because that is not what they do, she said.

“You’re going to get a caring staff person who’s first of all going to be there for you,” Kuester said. “And then secondly, try to get you in the right direction.”

It’s good to acknowledge the work those in recovery are doing to stay sober, even if it’s hard to talk about, Hancock said.

During this time of year, they want to feel good about themselves.

“People in recovery just want to experience the same things people that don’t struggle with the disease are experiencing,” she said.

Alcohol-free events are taking place in thearea during the holidays for those in recovery, Hancock said.

She urged people to call the Coulee Recovery Center at (608) 784-4177 if they want more information.

If you need support, Great Rivers 2-1-1 is available 24/7.

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