Tips for avoiding holiday addiction relapses
The holiday season can be an exciting and heart-warming time of the year for the majority of individuals and families. But, unfortunately, for those struggling with addiction or recovery, the “most wonderful time of the year” is often met with many temptations and struggles.
Below are a few top tips to help you navigate through the holiday season and stay on the road to sobriety.
Understand what triggers you
You need to understand what type of situations, individuals and environments trigger you and learn how to manage them. Often common triggers can include:
These emotions are medically referred to as HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired). These are the four risk states that can severely affect your behaviour and mood. Learning to recognise these emotional states and understand their impact will allow you to take action to prevent their harmful effects from taking you down a destructive path to possibly breaking your sobriety.
Research has shown that it can be helpful for you to bring your food or non-alcoholic drink to events that may be alcohol-fuelled. This can help keep your mind occupied while keeping your blood sugar steady to avoid irritability and temptation.
Rely on your support system
It can be substantially helpful to attend extra support group meetings during the holiday period. Talking to individuals who are also going through the same emotions and struggles allows you to feel comforted, knowing that you are not the only person struggling with sobriety. Not only will meeting others validate how you feel, but you can make new friends and connections doing so.
In addition to attending support groups, you should focus on gravitating towards supportive family and friends who want to be there for you and will actively help you stay on the road to sobriety.
Being accompanied by a trusted family or friend to seasonal events can significantly decrease the likelihood of you giving in to any temptations that may pass you by throughout the night. It can be helpful for you to talk to your trusted friend or family member before you get to the event and let them know how you are feeling and if you have any worries about the night.
Create an exit plan
In conjunction with having a trusted friend who attends events with you, it is vital to have an exit strategy. You can’t always predict how a situation may go or how you will feel in the moment—creating an exit strategy due to a potentially stressful seasonal situation is essential to staying on the road to sobriety.
Be picky with who you spend time with
The holiday season is known for spending a monumental amount of time with family members. However, do not feel obligated to hang out with certain family members with whom you may have a strained relationship. Spending a significant amount of time with complex individuals could cause you to feel stressed and agitated, which could be the downfall of your new sober lifestyle.
Keep stress at bay
Stress is a significant trigger for most individuals on the road to recovery, especially around the holiday season. However, you are much less likely to fall back into old substance or alcohol abuse habits if you learn to combat your stress level with healthy strategies.
Exercise and meditation have been scientifically proven to help reduce stress and distract the mind. Therefore, keeping yourself healthy mentally and physically is a vital habit that should be adapted into your daily routine.
However, if you do have the urge to start abusing, you will only have to deal with typical cravings for roughly about 20 minutes. Practising meditation, deep breathing exercises, positively talking to yourself in the mirror can remind you how far you have come with your addiction recovery.
Don’t be scared to say no
In the spirit of the holidays, co-workers, friends, and family may try and persuade you to have just one beer or offer you one line of coke to enjoy the party more. You will need to be prepared to say no and stand your ground with your decision without making it into a big deal.
Don’t expect everyone you speak to or work with to know you have decided to become sober; therefore, you will need to be firm with your answer and use your exit strategy to remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible.
Have some fun
You can have fun without abusing; there is no reason for you to feel the need to isolate yourself; this will result in you becoming miserable. Depression and anxiety will quickly follow, the temptation to begin abusing will rise significantly.
Adapting to your new sober life will be a challenge at times, but you need to enjoy yourself. Meet new people on the same road as you, bring your trusted family members and friends to meet other recovering addicts. You need to feel safe when you are having fun with the individuals you surround yourself with.
Spend some time helping out others
Regardless of how difficult situations may feel for you during the holiday season, volunteering some of your time can quickly remind you how lucky you are and how far you have come on this journey. Creating gifts, volunteering at your local food banks, visit a nursing home, or serving meals at a homeless shelter can help you feel grateful for how far you have come during the holiday period.
In the majority of communities, there are various opportunities to help others out who are less fortunate.
If you need help, reach out
If you find yourself struggling to stay sober during the holiday season, please understand that you are not alone. According to the US Health and Human Services, as many as 17 million Americans struggle with alcohol and drug use disorders alone.
Extra support during the holiday season is a great way to keep yourself busy while connecting with individuals who will know precisely what you are going through.
If you or someone you love requires extra support or help with substance or alcohol abuse struggles, please give us a call on our helpline at the number below.
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