Everyone knows the holidays are happy, right? Actually we know that's not always true.
Unrealistic expectations, over-commitment, unhealthy eating, financial strain and fatigue can fray emotions. Travel complications and busy schedules can add to the stress, as well.
You might be spending your holidays away from your recovery support system and sober routines, which can make you more vulnerable to relapse.
Holiday customs, childhood memories and annual gatherings that are closely associated with drug or alcohol use can also tug at your emotions and put your recovery at risk.
Develop a plan to protect your sobriety ahead of any holiday event and activity that could potentially trigger relapse to substance use.
Here are some ideas:
- Go to a Smart Recovery or Twelve Step meeting before or after the event
- Attend the festivities with a sober friend
- Make sure you can leave the gathering at any time and are not dependent on someone else for transportation
- "Bookend" the event with before-and-after telephone phone calls to someone in recovery
- Keep a non-alcoholic drink in your hand so that people aren't constantly offering to get you a drink
You can feel empowered to limit your time in stressful situations or around difficult people—and always have an escape plan. Much of relapse prevention is having an awareness of the people, places or things that could trigger trouble and planning strategies for staying sober given those inevitable situations.
(Adapted from Hazelden/Betty Ford)