Written by Christopher A. Parrella, J.D., CPC, CHC, CPCO
While the holidays can be a joyous time for many, they also can be a difficult time for recovering addicts. There are a whole new set of pressures that come along this time of the year. There are temptations to indulge in food and alcohol, and for some, even drugs.
Relatives often add to the pressure with their high expectations, which in turn can lead to setbacks in recovery. Those who don’t have family or friends also may turn to alcohol and drugs to cope with stress and loneliness.
Although there are no hard and fast statistics, the potential for relapse does rise, at least anecdotally, over the holidays. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are a number of steps you can take to make it through the holidays and remain on the road to recovery.
If you are already in a recovery program, make sure you continue to attend meetings. Go to extra ones if possible. If you are going to be out of town, find out where there are meetings you can attend and then go! If you are not in a program, join one. Some people even schedule their rehab over the holidays.
Make sure your existing support system will be there for you when you need them. If they are not going to be around, line up others who can step in to help you.
Keep away from anything that might trigger a relapse – everything from toxic friends and relatives, to parties where the emphasis is on drinking, to uncomfortable social situations.
If you do go to a party, always ask what’s in the punch, or even in some foods. Alcohol has a way of making its way into drinks and some baked goods.
Host your own alcohol and drug free gathering.
Create new traditions – ones that won’t set off existing triggers.
Remind yourself how far you have come and why a few hours of “fun” are not worth derailing your success.
Find opportunities to give back. For example, contact a nonprofit organization that might need your assistance – a soup kitchen, delivering food and gifts to those in need, visiting children in hospitals or the elderly in nursing homes. It will make you feel good.
Know your limitations.
Find time for yourself. Exercise, meditate, relax, get enough sleep, don’t give in to pressure to go somewhere you are not comfortable going.
Remember, the best gift you can give to yourself and your loved ones is to remain sober through the holidays and beyond.
The information provided is meant to be a guide and not meant to be a substitute for professional advice. Readers are responsible for making their own assessment of the information presented here and any use of our products based on such information.
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