“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” but for those
in recovery, cravings for more than hot cocoa can come in full force.
While some worry about their waistlines from all the holiday food, you
may be worried you’ll relapse. There are many reasons for this,
from the added stress, extremely busy schedules personally and professionally
and having to spend time away from your sober network. It can also be
a challenge to forego the spiked eggnog when you see the rest of your
family and friends having a glass —or even a few.
The holidays can be an emotional time, and it’s easy to see why you
might want to seek solace in the drug you once abused if the stress gets
to be too much. If you learn your relapse triggers, you’ll be forearmed
with strategies to resist temptation so you can protect the greatest gift
you’ve ever given yourself and your loved ones: your hard-earned
sobriety. Preparation is key, take this time to study up on techniques
for avoiding relapse and
staying sober throughout the holidays and beyond.
5 Tips for Maintaining Sobriety
Tis the season for cocktails, holiday parties, and good times (often fueled
by alcohol). With this added stress, it’s easy to see why it’s
possible to relapse during the holidays, especially if you are unprepared
or in very early recovery. The ramped-up family time can also be an emotional
time for many.
Taking care of yourself during the holiday means warding off triggers. The most common triggers for relapse correspond to the letters in the acronym “HALT”:
Hungry: Low blood sugar from hunger can make you anxious and irritable, and that
can lead to impulsive decisions where you’ll be more tempted to
Alone: One of the hallmarks of addiction is isolation. Keep yourself busy with
friends and family. Remember that you don’t need alcohol or drugs
to make the season bright, but you do need support. Lean on your support network.
Lonely: If you don’t have anyone to celebrate with during the holidays, don’t
despair. Many find themselves in this situation. If you’re feeling
the holiday blues, try to distract yourself and strike up a conversation
with someone new, volunteer or pick up a new hobby.
Tired: You may feel the need for a “pick me up” and turn to your former
substance of choice to do so. Resist this by getting adequate rest and
exercising during the day to sleep better at night.
Have a good attitude. Manage stress and make sure you stay fully conscious of defense mechanisms
such as rationalization and denial, both which can spur on a relapse.
Talk to your sponsor or a professional counselor about your emotions and
expectations regarding the holidays. Remember, too, that many others are
stressed during the holidays, even those who aren’t in recovery.
Be wary of known risks. If you are going to a family holiday party and you know your great aunt
is going to grill you about your sobriety, avoid her. If your uncle wants
to make you a stiff drink, say “no, thanks” or “I don’t
drink anymore.” If you know the office holiday party is going to
be all about drinking, make a brief appearance and go home. It’s
unrealistic to face these temptations and think you’ll be able to
“soldier through” them. Don’t put yourself in the positions of
having to do so, as Step One of 12-step programs is “We don’t have the power
Be mindful of what you’re drinking. When you’re in a social gathering, it’s helpful to always have
a beverage in hand, so you won’t have to decline drinks from other
partygoers. Make sure you watch to see how your beverage is made and ask
if it’s nonalcoholic. If you accidentally take a sip of what you
thought was sparkling apple cider but turned out to be champagne, don’t
despair. One accidental sip of alcohol doesn’t equate to a relapse.
It can, however, if you keep your mistake a secret and rationalize that
you were able to handle alcohol, after all. Resist this.
Consider going to rehab during the holidays. Are the holidays all too much for you to cope with right now? You’re
not alone. Some may think it’s an inappropriate time to go to treatment,
when in fact, it could be the perfect opportunity. It’s a known
fact that substance abuse increases during the holidays, and
addiction treatment initiated during this time could be the best gift you give to yourself,
not to mention your family, friends, and even your colleagues.
Ready to learn more about addiction treatment? Contact us at Turning Point
by dialing (973) 380-0905 or reach out online for a quick reply.