Most people enjoy holiday celebrations with their family and friends. However, it can be a stressful time for those still recovering from addiction to drugs or alcohol. People with substance abuse disorders often live alone and avoid social gatherings. The holiday season may force them to socialize and mingle with many people, causing stress and increasing their chances of relapsing.
Furthermore, many parties during the holidays involve alcohol. People struggling to stay sober may view the holiday season as an opportunity for "just one glass" of wine, alcohol, or other spirits. Unfortunately, most lose sight of their goal, leading to overdrinking and relapse.
Knowing the connection between the holidays and substance abuse helps identify the common triggers that lead to relapse. Some examples include:
The behavior of toxic family members or seeing the people who were part of unpleasant memories can cause stress and relapse in most people recovering from addiction.
You should avoid being isolated this holiday season if you feel sad, stressed, or down because you are alone. Feeling alone can lead to negative thoughts and alcohol or drug abuse.
The holidays and the rise in COVID-19 cases are making it increasingly difficult to organize classes, therapy, social gatherings, or counseling for those seeking addiction recovery. These disruptions to treatment can lead to relapse.
Another reason substance abuse and relapse occur more often during the holidays is that parties and gatherings often involve alcohol or sometimes even drugs. This gives recovering addicts easier access to substances and is very tempting for many.
A daily routine can keep you occupied while recovering from addiction. However, the holidays may make it difficult to maintain your daily routine and may lead to relapse.
Remember that alcohol, drugs, or other substances are unnecessary to enjoy the holidays. Here are some steps to end the year clean and sober as recommended by Haven House Recovery, a recovery center in Santa Rosa Beach:
Planning your day will help you avoid relapses. Having goals to fulfill throughout the day will help you stay motivated and focused on abstinence. Keep thinking about ending the year sober, and you won't have to worry about the holidays. If you want to understand more about what relapsing means, visit Abbey Care Foundation.
You can classify activities as either low, medium, or high-risk if you are in early recovery. High-risk situations include going to bars during the holiday season. It is best to avoid it and only deal with low-risk situations.
You'll be able to handle high- and medium-risk situations as you progress in your recovery. Consider creating a daily plan to overcome your addiction when you do find yourself in such situations.
It's impossible to avoid stress during the holiday season, but you can keep it under control.
Take a few moments to unwind and relax when you feel stressed. You can also meditate or do some exercise when you feel stressed. These activities can help you eliminate negative thoughts and satisfy your body's desire to do something.
Why not bring something safe to drink and eat instead of drugs and alcohol? You can bring sparkling water for yourself if you're craving a bit of champagne. You won't even run out of options with so many flavors available.
You can also identify your triggers to avoid relapse. Knowing your triggers will help you manage them and avoid them during the holiday season. Caring for your mental and physical health also helps in managing your triggers.
You can practice your response to avoid having to talk about addiction. This will be helpful when a relative or friend asks you questions you aren't comfortable answering.
Eat healthy food before, during, and after the holidays to keep your body in peak condition. Meal plans are also a great help. Long-term alcohol and drug use also affect your physical health.
Eat healthy snacks and meals at least once every three hours, if possible. Avoid skipping meals or eating less than usual. These can lead to anxiety and low blood sugar, triggering a relapse.
This holiday season, make sure you have the support you require. If you are not comfortable sharing your feelings and thoughts with strangers or mere acquaintances, lean on your family members or your closest friends. You can also join a support group if that is not possible.
The holidays are a difficult time for most people recovering from an addiction. It can make them feel stressed and may tempt them to engage in activities that may lead to relapse. It's best to know your triggers, so you'll know what to do to keep yourself sober through the holidays. Always have a good support system and prioritize your well-being at all times. It may be difficult at first but trust the process. You got this.