Staying Sober During the Holidays
It’s officially the holiday season, which can be a trigger for people struggling with addiction or in recovery. Here are some tips to stay sober and steps to take if you relapse.
Know Your Holiday Triggers
Whether it’s seeing family, finances, or just going to parties, it is normal to feel overwhelmed by the holidays. For people in recovery from addiction, the holidays can elicit additional anxiety and fear of encountering triggering situations.
Relapse is when a person returns to using drugs or alcohol after stopping or attempting to stop. Although relapse is common (especially around the holidays), it is not inevitable and there are steps you can take to avoid triggers and relapse.1
Some common triggers around the holidays include:2
- Family stress. For many, the holidays mean spending more time than usual with family. This can elicit a lot of emotions, not always pleasant ones. Feelings of guilt or shame around your addiction, political differences, and other negative emotions that come with family relationships can be triggering.
- Changes to routine. Your healthy eating patterns, exercise routine, or therapy schedule can be affected by the holidays. All of these disruptions can affect coping.
- Holiday parties. Unfortunately, alcohol is a big part of holiday party culture. The amount of alcohol and other drugs present at holiday parties can be overwhelming for many people, but especially those struggling with addiction.
Tips for a Successful Sober Holiday Season
Your well-being and sobriety are the most important thing, always. Laguna Treatment Hospital is committed to supporting people during every stage of their recovery journey. Below are some tips to successfully navigating a sober holiday season:2
- Be Honest with Family and Friends. Communicate your needs (if friends or family are hosting a dinner) or host a gathering yourself that does not include alcohol. Your family, although potentially the cause of the extra stress, can be an invaluable resource.
- Call your Sponsor. Let your sponsor know about your plans and if you are feeling nervous, if they are not available make sure you have someone else that you can call.
- Go to a Meeting. Support groups like AA continue to hold meetings during the holidays. If you are traveling, look up a meeting in your area to attend for additional support.
- Bring a sober date or friend to parties. A close friend or your sponsor can be a helpful tool in holding yourself accountable and making you feel supported.
- It’s ok to say no. To parties, dinners, and any other activities that may cause distress or relapse. If you do go, have an exit strategy planned out beforehand. This could be a practiced response to if you are offered alcohol or how to sneak out unnoticed if things get too overwhelming.
What to do if you Relapse
An estimated 40-60% of people with substance use disorders relapse. Although there are ways to help prevent relapse, it is often part of the recovery process. However, relapse does not mean that treatment has failed, or that treatment won’t work for you. Instead, it is an indication that treatment needs to be modified or resumed.3
Laguna Treatment Hospital offers drug and alcohol rehab in Orange County, California. Whether you are starting your recovery journey or need a little extra support through the holidays, Laguna is here to help.