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How to Avoid Relapse During the Holidays

Sad woman with Christmas tree. Avoiding relapse during the Holidays.

The holidays are a special time of year but can also be stressful. If you are in recovery, the holidays can make it very challenging to maintain your sobriety. Therefore, learning how to avoid relapse during the holidays is an essential part of your recovery.

Why Are Holiday Stressors Dangerous to Those in Recovery?

Most everyone feels added stress during the holiday season. Putting up decorations, planning family gatherings, cooking, baking, deciding what holiday parties to attend, and shopping can stretch us thin and result in added stress. 

For those of us in recovery, these holiday stressors can set off triggers and cravings to want to drink or use drugs. You can reduce the risk of relapse by keeping an eye on your stress level and being aware of your holiday stressors, such as:

  • Overextending yourself and making too many commitments.
  • Agreeing to attend every holiday party and family gathering you are asked to attend.
  • Creating added financial stress by overspending on holiday gifts and meals.
  • Being around friends and family causes you emotional stress and anxiety.
  • Being forced to deal with unresolved family issues and conflicts that you may not be ready to face. 

How to Avoid Relapse During the Holidays

  • Put your mental, physical, and emotional needs first. You need to take care of yourself and your needs above family and friends. 
  • Do not put yourself into situations that set off triggers and cravings. Avoid gatherings and parties alcohol or drugs may be present. 
  • Learn to say no and stick to it. It is perfectly acceptable to tell others no and decline invites to holiday parties and gatherings. 
  • Limit yourself to a few holiday events that you can enjoy. 
  • Create your own holiday traditions with sober friends. 
  • Ask a sober friend to be your holiday buddy. That way, you can support each other’s sobriety. 
  • Stay consistent with your normal routines. However, adjusting your schedule during the holidays is acceptable as long as you attend meetings and other things that benefit your recovery.
  • Have a support system in place. During the holidays, therapists can take vacation time, meeting schedules can change, and your sponsor may not always be available. Ensure you have a backup plan and support system in place. 
  • Have an exit strategy in place. It never hurts to have an exit strategy in place if you start to feel overwhelmed when getting together with family and friends or attending a holiday party. 
  • If going to an event or family gathering makes you feel sad, guilty, shameful, or miserable before you go, skip it. There is no reason to subject yourself and put yourself in a situation where you may relapse. 

What If the Holidays Are Too Overwhelming to Handle?

Suppose you are not ready to be around friends and family this holiday season. That is OK. Maintain your support system of sober friends you have made in rehab or at meetings. Carefully pick and choose those things that are the least stressful and do not make you feel anxious. 

You can also reach out for help and ask for referrals from medical detox centers and rehab centers. Their addiction specialists can provide added support to help you determine the most appropriate ways for you to get through the holidays sober and avoid a relapse. 

What If I Relapse During the Holidays? What Should I Do?

The most important thing is to acknowledge the relapse and take the appropriate steps to regain your sobriety, like completing detox and a medical detox center. Everyone has a risk of relapsing, especially during their first few years of sobriety. Therefore, you should view a relapse as part of your recovery journey and continue to move forward. 

Relapse Prevention and Detox in Pompano Beach, FL  

At Retreat of Broward in Pompano Beach, FL, we are aware of the challenges and added stress and anxiety people in recovery face during the holidays. When you need relapse prevention support to avoid relapse or detox if you do, our caring and supportive addiction professionals are here to help. Contact us today.

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