Halloween opens the door to a stream of holidays that can be potential quicksand for anyone in recovery.
Routines are interrupted, family gathering overflow with the abundance of food and drink, and stress levels rise.
Holidays Can Be Relapse Triggers
“Alcohol and drug use are often exacerbated during the holidays, especially on Christmas and New Year’s. Stress is also one of the leading causes of alcohol and/or drug relapse. The holiday season may be a distraction and may be overwhelming for individuals who are recently recovering from addiction.” – Holiday Triggers
With Halloween ushering us all into the Holiday season, Beaturre Recovery Institute wants to help you and your loved one find the support you need.
“For some, isolation and lack of appropriate support becomes more apparent during the holiday season – depression, anxiety, and other psychological symptoms may increase.” – Psych Central
It Is Possible To Bear the Onslaught of the Holidays and Stay Sober.
It is possible to be supportive and helpful to your loved one who might be struggling, without forgoing entire holiday traditions.
Here are 5 ways to get through without relapsing:
- Play the tape forward – Imagine yourself on January 1st counting your days of recovery, being proud of yourself and feeling like your life is moving forward. Or play the entire tape of your last day of use; all the way through the parts where it didn’t end well, you lost the job, you got arrested, or you harmed yourself or others. When the urges rise, play the tape all the way through in your head and then go find something else to do.
- Limit media exposure – The holidays are a time where media works extremely hard to make you feel as if you are discontent. The subtle messages and images are unsettling in a direct effort to make you want more. Not a good formula for someone fresh in recovery. Furthermore, a great deal of the marketing includes pictures of holiday drinking and/or triggering memories. Why fill your mind with these images? Make a conscious effort to limit your exposure to media during the holidays and instead use that time for self-care, being with your support system or going to a meeting.
- Lean on your support system – Holidays are not the time to take a vacation from your meetings. Now more than ever it is crucial you are consistent with your attendance. A great option is to schedule a recovery meeting during a family event that you know will be particularly stressful. This way you have an exit plan if you need to and can go somewhere safe. Another option is to bring a wingman to your holiday gatherings. Someone farther along in recovery or even a support system who can help you when the urges come and you are faced with tough choices.
- Make a battle plan – You would never be a football player without a playbook right? So why would you enter the Holiday season, a time when you will be bombarded with messages and triggers, without a plan? Make a plan. Ask yourself how you hope to stay in recovery during this time and who can you lean on for support. What types of events and gatherings can you stay safe at? Go into the holidays with your battle plan for safety and recovery. Then when you live the tape forward you can land on the other side of this holiday season with health and recovery.
- Limit your time – Are you attending a family gathering or a party that you know will be stressful? Limit your time there. Tell the guest how long you can stay and stick to that plan. It will help you to know there is an end in sight. Trying to “wing it” and “see how you feel” is not the best way to approach these types of gatherings. Make a time limit and stick with it.
Millions of people enjoy the holidays without using substances and you can too!
Don’t let it sneak up on your, make a plan and protect your path of recovery!