For many people, the holiday season is the time of year when they get to spend some quality time with their loved ones. But for some, the holidays can bring about feelings of stress and anxiety — this can be particularly true for those who have struggled with substance abuse.
When adults are in recovery from alcohol or drug abuse, holiday celebrations can mean something entirely different than catching the game or opening presents. In some cases, these gatherings may even risk a relapse. Here’s how:
Ways Holiday Celebrations Can Risk a Relapse
Bringing Up the Past
While many adults in recovery learn to accept and take responsibility for the choices they made when they were using, it can be extremely stressful if family members only focus on this.
Additionally, if those in recovery have not yet had the chance to hash out any issues their addiction had caused within the family, they may risk relapsing from the added awkwardness and stress.
Overwhelming Social Gatherings
Especially if an adult who is in recovery from substance abuse also struggles with anxiety, heading in to a house full of people — even if those people are family — can result in their becoming overwhelmed. In this case, they may risk relapsing in an effort to feel less anxious.
More Temptations Present
At most holiday gatherings, there tends to be a surplus of wine and other spirits for guests to sip on throughout the night. Especially for adults who are in the early stages of addiction recovery, having these items present can be overly tempting and risk relapse.
If your loved one relapses during the holidays, it’s essential to seek help as soon as possible. By having them get back into treatment, they can address what caused them to relapse and learn how they can keep themselves sober moving forward.
How to Avoid Relapse
Avoid a relapse during the holidays by preparing yourself for any potential stressors that may be present and following these tips:
Bring your own safe, non-alcohol drinks.
Be prepared to answer questions about your recovery — or rehearse responses if you’re not ready to discuss your recovery with everyone yet.
Plan ahead with family members who can support you if you feel tempted.
Keep busy and well-fed to avoid feeling hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.