Lifeskills Mental Health Blog

Surviving the Holidays in Addiction Recovery

Surviving the Holidays in Addiction Recovery

It’s time for the holidays, which means a chance to eat, drink, and be merry. But for those struggling with a substance use disorder, it can be tough to navigate and can lead to heightened anxiety. The holiday pressures of money, family, and general stress can be difficult for everyone, but for someone with a substance use disorder, they can be amplified as they’re often the triggers that began the abuse in the first place. The holidays can be an invitation for a destructive relapse, but education, self-awareness, and a solid plan are the most potent lines of defense in attempting to combat a significant problem.

Tips For Those In Recovery During the Holidays

For someone in recovery, surviving the holidays begins with being prepared. Most people know that the holidays bring additional stress, and the potential for unwanted issues to arise. Keep in mind these helpful tips when the celebrations begin.

  • Stay Active: Boredom can be a trigger for some, so plan for ways to stay active.  You can go outside and throw the football, attend a yoga class, or go for a walk to catch up with friends and loved ones you rarely see. If you’re traveling out of town, you should research support groups in that area and put them on your agenda.

  • Bring Your Own Beverage: Bringing your drink to the festivities ensures you have something non-alcoholic in your glass. You may also find others who want to join you and limit or avoid alcohol as well.

  • Know Your Triggers: Common triggers correspond to the acronym HALT – when you feel hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. Knowing your triggers and how to manage them will help you avoid a relapse.

  • Don’t Forget to Eat: A lack of food can cause low blood sugar, leaving you tempted to drink alcohol. To avoid this, it’s important to eat a nutritious meal or snack about every three hours.

  • Keep Your Stress Under Control: Many people turn to alcohol to cope with stress, so walking away from stressful situations and decompressing will help to push away triggering thoughts. It’s also important to make time for regular exercise to decrease your stress levels.

  • Bring Sober Support: Having a sober family member or friend accompany you to gatherings can be helpful in guiding conversations if needed or helping you if you need to leave. Also, driving yourself to social events is often helpful to allow for an early exit if the conversation or event gets too intense.

  • Rehearse Responses: Social gatherings are the perfect time for people to talk about their past escapades with alcohol. While it may all be in fun, these conversations can be toxic for those in recovery. If you find yourself in this situation, excuse yourself and engage in a different activity or discussion. Additionally, you should establish a sensible strategy for turning down alcoholic drinks when offered. Also, don’t feel the need to explain why you’re not drinking; a simple, “no thank you” is sufficient.

  • Take Responsibility: There may be damaged relationships due to your past behavior, and often during the holidays conflict can arise. Remind people that you’re sorry for your past, but you’re in recovery and in the process of changing those behaviors. This is an opportunity to practice being the person you’ve always wanted to be free from drugs and alcohol.

  • Lean On Your Support System: This is the most important tip as it’s vital to make time during the holiday season to attend a few extra meetings. You should utilize your sponsor and/or recovery coach if needed. Additionally, during the holidays, staying close to your friends and family that helped you during recovery is important. If you feel overwhelmed or do suffer a relapse, reach out to your mental health provider.

If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance use disorder, it’s vital to seek treatment. Lifeskills South Florida is dually licensed to treat both substance abuse disorder and other co-occurring mental health disorders (often referred to as dual diagnosis). We offer a full continuum of care including:

For more information, call us today at 833.484.1655 or complete our contact form.


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