Prevent drug and alcohol addiction relapse this holiday season by learning how to avoid holiday addiction relapse.
Recovering addicts see the signs and feel the tension as the holidays approach, and they know that they have to buckle-up to avoid an addiction relapse. Excitement fills the air and people are making plans for get-togethers and celebrations. Stores and houses are trimmed with colorful decorations, people are out shopping for gifts and the workplace is handing out Secret Santa assignments. It’s hard not to get caught up in the holiday spirit when all these things are taking place around us. But what many of us forget is that the holidays can be a difficult time for some people who are in recovery, and if they are not careful they can fall back into a relapse and addiction.
Let us remember that many people are recovering from something, whether it is an illness, the death of a loved one, abuse, trauma, gambling, alcohol or drugs. Trying to find our way out of the darkness takes time and hard work. When people put unrealistic expectations on people in recovery they are just making the situation more stressful for that person. Let’s give these people a break this year and remain mindful that not everyone is in a holly, jolly holiday spirit. Everyone in recovery has his own unique battles to fight and drug and alcohol addiction recovery is not excluded from the list. To help our loved ones avoid a drug and alcohol addiction relapse during the holidays, we have prepared a list for them to follow:
- Plan ahead so that you will know where you will be and with whom. Don’t isolate yourself during the holidays if you know that it will cause you to be sad and depressed. If you prepare an itinerary beforehand you won’t be taken by surprise by unexpected events.
- Plan to be around people who support your recovery and care about you. Avoid toxic people and situations as best you can. Learn how to say “no” if you think a specific situation will be too stressful for you, or if people are putting unrealistic demands on you. Keep in mind that protecting your recovery is your top priority always.
- Write down a list of things you will say or do in the event that you find yourself in a difficult situation. Review your list often and hang it up where you will see it everyday. Have exit strategies on hand in case you need them in a bad situation. If people begin to question your recovery, remember that you do not have to explain yourself to anyone if you don’t want, simply smile and excuse yourself from their presence.
- Have a trusted friend accompany you to family gatherings, business parties, etc. who will be your watchdog to make sure you don’t succumb to temptation. If you begin to falter, have your friend take you to a safe place regardless of what you might tell them at the time of crisis. Your friend can literally save your life if you are still vulnerable to triggers and temptation.
- Practice your relapse prevention techniques regularly and keep them fresh in your mind. Always be prepared for the worst, so that you can handle any situation.
- Keep attending your support group meetings and stay focused on healing your body, mind and spirit.
- When in recovery, remember the acronym “HALT” to avoid Hunger, Anger, Loneliness and Tiredness. Make sure you are well rested and fed. Exercise is good for your mind and body. Also take part in other safe activities that lift your mood and spirit.
- If you are attending an event where there will be alcoholic beverages, make sure they will also have non-alcoholic beverages too, or bring your own.
- Plan to take a trip to a place you have always wanted to go, or try something different and fun that you will enjoy. You can invite a friend out for dinner and the theater, or play sports, or volunteer where your help would be needed and appreciated.
- And most important of all, ask for help. If you are struggling with emotional issues, triggers, cravings, etc. ask for help. Let your friends, loved ones and counselor all know that you need support now.
There is no reason that a recovering addict should not enjoy the holidays. You can stop holiday addiction relapse by following the principles set forth here. Make up your own new rules to celebrate the holidays if the former ways are too difficult for you. You can decide to stay strong, sober and smart. Keep yourself grounded and centered and you will be able to avoid holiday addiction relapse.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.