With the holidays just around the corner, many addicts and alcoholics in recovery can be scared their sobriety will soon be at risk. Family gatherings are around the bend, and celebrations, in general, can be triggering for some people who wish to refrain from celebratory drinks and happy holiday party activities.
There are, however, ways to prevent relapse during the holidays if you are living a clean and sober lifestyle.
It is crucial to remember that it is okay to be nervous about the holidays approaching if you are in recovery. This may even be beneficial so that you can plan and prevent any unnecessary struggles.
Identify Your Triggers
Are your family members toxic for you? Does the sweet smell of eggnog make you wish it were spiked? Although many of these triggers to use drugs or drink won’t overpower you forever, it’s important to identify triggers you could face in due time. No matter how small they may appear, certain triggers
Three things can be helpful to identify as triggering before participating in any holiday activities:
People (Will you be near anyone during the holiday season that will remind you of your using or drinking?)
Places (Is there anywhere you are going that are associated in your mind with drinking or using?)
Things (Will you run into)
If you plan, you can have a sufficient amount of coping skills ready to combat any cravings you face for your substance of choice.
Of course, no one can predict or plan out every single trigger that may arise during the holidays. It is especially important in these cases to have several coping skills prepared.
HALT, in the recovery world, is an acronym meaning “Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.” It is commonly discussed amongst addicts and alcoholics that being any one of these things can make someone more susceptible to a relapse.
Perhaps, if you find yourself anxious, fearful, or craving your substance of choice at any point during family or friend festivities, or when you are alone, you can ask yourself four crucial questions:
Am I hungry?
Am I angry?
Am I lonely?
Am I tired?
After you identify whether you are any of these things, you may proceed with the appropriate coping methods. If you think you may be hungry during whatever ventures the holidays may bring you, maybe pack some snacks. If you believe you could be tired from socializing, traveling, or being so busy, carve out time for some self-care.
Luckily enough, when an addict or alcoholic enters the world of recovery, there are a plethora of resources readily available for them to use at their disposal. If someone is experiencing a crisis or are afraid they are going to drink or use, addicts and alcoholics can turn to many different options for help, such as:
Utilizing recovery support groups, such as 12 step programs
Calling a friend
Taking some time for a quick meditation session
Taking a walk to clear the mind
Establishing a “go-to” support system buddy (This person can help you through triggering situations, whether that is by phone call or by in-person assistance)
Sometimes, during the chaos of the holidays, it is easy for one to forget recovery has given them a new way of life – free from active addiction.
Creating gratitude lists can be one of the most beneficial tools in helping someone flip their mindstate from a state of fear to a frame of abundance and appreciation. Summon gratitude and calmness, patience, and self-love will likely follow. It is difficult for someone to do something self-destructive, such as relapse, if they are full of gratitude and love for their life.
Find Fun Sober Events
For those who either don’t have any family members in their nearby area or cannot be around their family to protect their sobriety, there are tons of fun activities available in which to partake.
For example, many people in recovery either throw sober dances or even parties at their homes for those who don’t have family around. Avoid loneliness and isolation on holidays by participating in some of the awesome sober events available in your neighborhood.
Perhaps one of the most important pillars to remember during the holidays is to be completely honest with yourself and others. Addiction feeds off of lying, deceit, and denial. On the contrary, addiction cannot survive in the light of honesty.
You will not be able to reach out and attain the help you may need during the winter holiday season if you are not honest with yourself. Not only this, but once you reach out for help, others will not be able to aid you as fully as they may be able to if you are completely transparent with them.