Avoiding Holiday Relapses while in Recovery
The holidays are upon us and going through recovery during this time of the year can be rough. Cocktail parties and holiday celebrations involving other drinks can be difficult to navigate while in recovery. Although the holidays are a fun time of year, many individuals experience stress and turn to their drink or drug of choice to cope. Family time is often a trigger of stress as well and everyone knows that the holidays include more time with family. On the flip side, individuals without much family around may experience loneliness and/or depression and turn to the substances they’re recovering from in order to deal with those hopeless/lonely feelings.
However, individuals in recovery know that they do not need alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to have an enjoyable holiday season. Going into the holidays with confidence that things can still be fun and festive without these substances is key. Also, it is critical to have a plan in place before the holiday festivities begin.
Some ideas to have in mind as the holidays approach include:
- Be aware of what triggers you. Taking care of yourself mentally and physically can help ward off the triggers that arise.
- Eat before stressful events or get-togethers where drugs or alcohol may be present. Low blood sugar can lead to an increase in anxiety or irritability and can make substances more tempting – interfering with recovery during the holiday
- Begin each day with a plan. Take each day one at a time and make a plan for whatever is on the agenda for the day as well as planning for the unexpected. Having a firm plan in place (such as: I’ll leave if this happens”, or “I’m only staying so many minutes/hours”) can help. Practicing what you can say when offered a drink or other substances will help you refrain.
- Bring your own drinks. Bringing food and safe drinks that you enjoy will help fend off those temptations.
- Bring a friend who supports your recovery. Having someone else with you who agrees to abstain from what you are recovering from is very valuable. Knowing you aren’t the only one holding back can really help those urges.
Awareness is key. Knowing your triggers and having a plan in place – including supportive people- can really help in avoiding holiday relapses while in recovery.