The holiday season brings joy, but it can also bring stress. The busyness and stress associated with the holidays can be challenging if you are in recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction. For many, the holidays can be so challenging that they relapse.
While the holidays can be a relapse trigger, they don’t have to be. Follow these seven tips to help you stay on the road to recovery during the often stressful holiday season:
- Be judicial: The holiday season means seemingly endless parties, nights out, and gatherings. Choose to be selective about the events you attend. If you know a certain party will have alcohol, skip it if it would make you feel more comfortable. If you really have to attend a party that may trigger a relapse, request a friend to keep an eye out for you. Be sure to bring a non-alcoholic drink so that you have a reasonable option.
- Look after your health: In between attending parties and baking cookies, you might forget to take care of your own health. This could make you sick and add more stress, upping the risk of relapse. Exercise and a balanced diet will keep you in good shape during the holidays. Research suggests that exercise helps stave off cravings for drug and alcohol. Getting enough sleep and rest will also be important during the holidays.
- Rely on your support system: During the holidays, rely on your family and close friends to help you maintain sobriety. Keep them on speed dial, and let them know whenever you find yourself in a challenging situation. If they know what your relapse triggers are, they can also help you to avoid them.
- Don’t forget your priority: No matter how busy you get with holiday-related activities, you have to keep as your priority pursuing recovery. If you haven’t already, you can use free time during the holidays to find and attend support groups and 12-step meetings.
- Get needed addiction treatment: If you find yourself unable to deal with the stress that comes with the holidays and worried about relapsing, do not hesitate to seek professional addiction treatment. It may be what you need to refocus on your sobriety and get support.
- Take part in constructive activities: Occupying yourself with positive activities such as gardening, learning a new language, or helping a local nonprofit can help you take your mind off drugs and alcohol. These activities will not only keep you happier, but also boost your self-esteem and keep you focused on positive activities – the perfect recipe for maintaining sobriety.
- Avoid relapse triggers: Do certain situations make you feel like you want to use drugs or alcohol? If seeing your ex makes you unbearably sad or debating with your difficult uncle causes you to get angry, it’s probably best to limit or avoid your interaction with them. Make note of all the situations that trigger your substance abuse and avoid them during the holidays.
Trying to remain sober and not relapse during the holidays can be a challenge if you’re in recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction. However, if you’re determined to not let your substance abuse problems affect your holidays, you can strike a happy balance between having fun with friends and family and maintaining sobriety.