Dealing with Addiction During the Holidays

6 Tips for Dealing with Addiction During the Holidays

“More” is the catchword whether you are dealing with addiction during the holidays or not. The drive to do more, party more, spend more, eat more and so on has been shown to heighten stress levels to staggering degrees for even those that are dispassionate about holiday festivities.  The sad commentary however, is that those individuals already struggling with an addiction, typically consume more of their particular substance of abuse simply because it is their natural default coping mechanism. 

Even more vulnerable are those in the early stages of addiction recovery during the holidays.  Struggles with temptations to relapse frequently go overlooked by loved ones who are preoccupied with seasonal activities.  In many instances, normal support for a loved who is coping with the holidays in recovery is replaced with well-intended holiday hustle and bustle. And so, for some unfortunate few, time meant to be joyfully shared with family and friends often end in a trip to the emergency room for a drug overdose or even death.

The good news is that these severe consequences can be avoided by implementing a few important steps.  In fact, you can successfully cope with the holidays in recovery and also begin the new year with renewed hope for a clean and sober future. To avoid a dangerous relapse or addiction overload, consider implementing some the following suggestions for yourself or a loved one.

Tips for Dealing with Addiction during the Holidays:

  1. Schedule time to review mental and physical health issues that could be exacerbated during the holiday season. Depression is a common issue that people deal with during Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year celebrations.  Memories evoked by spending time with family members and old friends are powerful triggers to feelings that lead to melancholy or depression.  Unresolved feelings over the loss of a relationship due to drug use are usually more poignant during this period.  Taking time to talk to your mental health professional, your sober coach or a caring family member or friend about any potential pitfalls that could derail your emotional well-being can shed light on your current emotional condition and prepare you to deal with issues before they arise.
  2. Prepare to deal with revelation of your addiction. Many times, struggles with addiction is a closely guarded family secret that holidays have a way of unveiling. Whether it is an active addiction or the person happens to be in recovery, attempts to hide the condition from visiting family members and friends often amplify stress that reactivate or intensify addictive patterns of behavior. This is especially true if the root cause of the addiction has not been appropriately dealt with and is directly related to relationships with family or friends. Addiction research suggests root stimuli is a more powerful trigger for addicts than even exposure to the drug itself.

    Prepare yourself for involuntary disclosures about drug use or to deal with uncomfortable questions posed deliberately or unintentionally by others.  Rehearse answers to those questions that you would not necessarily want to be asked.  Adequate preparation can help you to respond with greater confidence.  Also, remember that it is your right to defer discussing your drug use in an open forum. Say you would rather discuss any aspect of your recovery at a more appropriate time and leave it at that.

  3. It is also important to prepare to respond to family talk that typically trigger feelings of shame or hurt. It may be helpful to role-play to see how comfortable you are with your intended responses with someone who support you in your sobriety goals. Being prepared helps to alleviate physical and emotional stress levels.
  4. If time alone is inevitable over the holidays, it is important to plan how you will spend time off from work for the holidays or when others are out without you. Arrange to do things that you know you will enjoy doing alone that will not create stress or cause you to feel the need to self-medicate.
  5. Ask questions about holiday events and parties prior to accepting invitations. Revisiting old haunts during the holidays is a major trigger to drug use.  It is possible that invitations to holiday gatherings may take you to places that you have been staying away from in an effort to avoid encountering people or events that facilitated addictive patterns of behavior in the past.  If you decide on accepting the invitation or you are unable to get out of going to these venues be sure that you are able to leave if the situation becomes troublesome.  Also, be prepared to deal with invitations or temptations to engage in any behavior that threatens your sobriety.  Having a solid plan to exit or excuse yourself from any situation that may cause a relapse will reduce anxiety associated with the situation.
  6. Envision a new year free from drug addiction. This is the time to not only make a drug free New Year’s resolution but also to take proactive steps towards implementing that goal.  Call up a drug rehab facility and begin the explore the possibility of recovery. Who says a new year’s resolution has to wait until the dawn of the new year.  Begin by researching the particular addiction that you have and the many treatment options and facilities that are available to you. Take the time to make a list of how your life may be different if you no longer need have the need to buy and use drugs every day.  Keep in mind that education, preparation and commitment are key elements to overcoming addiction and sustaining long term sobriety.

Plan to review relapse prevention technique and if possible return to a rehab center temporarily if your holidays is shaping up to be overly stressful.  For those in active addiction that have never sought help, this may be a great time to get the support you need to make it through the upcoming holidays.

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.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.