From November to the beginning of January, most of our focus is on the holiday season. Starting with Thanksgiving and ending in the New Year, we are often thrown off of our normal routine in an effort to spend more time with family, shop for gifts, cook and bake, and participate in holiday-inspired events with others. Everyone can relate to the feelings of stress, pressure, and being overwhelmed at this time. Just as much as most people love the holiday season, there are several stressors that come along with it – especially for those in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. Avoiding relapse triggers during the holidays is not always the easiest goal to accomplish; however, it can be done.
Why Do People Relapse?
Relapse is a part of recovery. Some people place their focus on bolstering their recovery so that they do not suffer a relapse while others may focus on ways to pull themselves back to solid ground when they do relapse. Addiction is a very real, very serious disease that can cause a person to relapse for a number of reasons.
Most relapses do not occur in a moment’s notice, rather there is usually a slow build-up leading up to the physical relapse. A physical relapse often happens after a person has experienced some mental and emotional troubles that have gone unaddressed. For example, stress, upsetting experiences, and ignoring emotions can all erode a person’s resilience in their recovery. This is especially true when more than one issues is happening simultaneously and going unaddressed. Relapse often occurs as a result of the neglect of psychological and emotional needs, which is why a large portion of recovery is focused on addressing issues as they occur.
What are the Warning Signs of a Relapse?
There are several warning signs associated with a relapse that can signal that one is on the horizon. From minor signs such as mood swings and unhealthy eating habits, to more severe ones such as having big cravings and convincing oneself that they can control their use, there are signs of relapse everywhere.
Some of the most common warning signs that a relapse is imminent include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Overall poor self-care
- Neglecting or masking emotions
- Isolating from others
- Developing a poor sleep schedule
- Skipping meetings
- Not utilizing coping skills
- Avoiding problems
- Glamorizing drug or alcohol use
- Thinking about using
- Planning to use
If these or other warning signs are noticed quickly, they can be actively identified and addressed in an appropriate manner. Should these signs go ignored, it can lead to a relapse, which can be fatal.
5 Tips for Avoiding Relapse Triggers During the Holidays
The holidays can be extremely complex, even for those who enjoy them. Avoiding relapse triggers during the holidays is absolutely key for those who are in recovery from drug or alcohol use. While it might seem nearly impossible for some, it is important to know that avoiding relapse triggers at the holidays is absolutely doable.
#1. Schedule Out Your Days
The holiday season can quickly jam-pack one’s schedule to the point where there is little time to simply relax. While we all try to accommodate our friends, family, and loved ones as much as possible, it is important to establishing bounding around how you are going to spend your time. Therefore, schedule out your days so that you have structure and can rely on time that is just for you, rather than for everyone else.
#2. Know What to Say
Depending on what activities you are engaging in during the holidays, knowing what to say when someone asks you about things that are triggering can be extremely beneficial. Have a few responses in mind for when someone asks you why you aren’t drinking. Practice a few one-liners to throw out there when someone brings up a topic that is triggering for you. Being prepared will help bring you comfort both before and during the holidays.
#3. Bring Your Own Drinks
Even if alcohol was not your substance of choice, if you are in recovery, you are abstaining from the use of alcohol, too. Alcohol plays a major role in the holiday season, and may be present in many celebrations. Take control back by bringing your own non-alcoholic beverage to the event you are attending so that you feel comfortable and not tempted to drink.
#4. Go to Meetings Regularly
Be sure to continue to attend any meetings that you attend. The strength and wisdom that can be gained through these meetings can help in avoiding relapse triggers during the holidays. Not only that, but you can also increase your accountability to other members of the group, helping you stay encouraged to keep from drinking or using drugs. If you can’t make it to in-person meetings, reach out to your sponsor or other peer support, or find an online meeting to attend.
#5. Lean on Your Support System
The holidays are one of the most important times to lean on your support system because avoiding relapse triggers during the holidays can be complicated to do. Keep in constant contact with members of your support system, such as your sponsor, best friend, family member, or other close confidant. Share how you are feeling as opposed to bottling it up and keep the line of communication open.
Benefits of Professional Help
Even though the holidays can be extremely difficult, there are always resources that can help you maintain your sobriety. Some of the best resources you can lean on are professional treatment services such as those we offer at Clear Recovery Center.
Professional outpatient treatment can be of great benefit to those who find that they have relapsed during the holidays (or any other time of year). If you have relapsed but do not require more intensive care, outpatient programming might be an effective way to help you address your relapse. However, in the event that you have relapsed and things have become out of control, our residential rehab services can help offer you the structure you need to get sober again.
Drug and Alcohol Rehab in Redondo Beach, CA
We understand how difficult it can be to maintain sobriety. Avoiding relapse triggers during the holidays is a challenge in itself. Allow our team at Clear Recovery Center help you through this difficult time so that you can continue on with your sobriety.
If you are in need of help for a substance use disorder, contact us right now by calling (877) 799-1985 or visiting our website by clicking here.