For people in recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction, consistency and support can be vital to preventing a relapse. If you find yourself traveling during Thanksgiving or the holiday season, you may be concerned with how you are going to resist temptation and maintain your sobriety.
Because the stress of the holidays – and families – can be a trigger for relapse, it’s a good idea to have some coping mechanisms in place before leaving. Here are some ways to cope during the often stressful holiday season:
1. Find a local support meeting. No matter where you are, there is sure to be an Alcoholic’s Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meeting. Go online to find the meeting that will be closest to your holiday destination before you arrive. Set aside time during your travels to attend meetings and get the support you need to help prevent relapse.
2. Stay in touch with your support at home. It’s a good idea to have available a list of people you can call, text, or email at home if you need extra support. Select people who you know will be around if you need them and who you know will be supportive. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to reach out to them if you find yourself needing to.
3. Bring a sober buddy. If the thought of heading home for the holidays causes you to feel anxious or if you don’t think you’ll be able to maintain your sobriety, travel with a sober buddy. Bring someone who you know is sober and who can offer you support while you’re away from home.
4. Practice what to say. Take some time before you leave to practice what you will say to people if they do offer you a drink. It may sound silly, but if you are prepared to respond, you won’t be caught off guard and it will be easier to stay away from temptation.
5. Talk to your family. If you are comfortable doing so, talk to your family about your needs during recovery. Let them know what you are and are not able to handle while you are home for the holidays. If they don’t know explicitly how to offer you support, they may not be as sensitive to your needs as you’d like.
6. Be prepared. If you are taking medication for a co-occurring disorder, such as depression or anxiety, make sure you have the necessary amount with you so that you don’t run out. Find a doctor you can contact in the area in case you do run out, your luggage gets lost, or if you need medical advice while you are out of town.
Temptation and stress during the holidays can make it difficult when in recovery for a drug or alcohol addiction. Having the right coping mechanisms handy can help ensure you maintain recovery and have an enjoyable holiday season.