The holiday season is upon us and to some this means it’s the time for joyful celebrations and festivities. However, for people who are in addiction recovery, this can be a difficult time of year.
Often, these celebrations take place as social gatherings accompanied by food and alcohol and sometimes even other illegal and harmful substances.
Being in these environments can bring large amounts of stress to anyone who is in addiction recovery, whether in early stages or late.
Furthermore, general stressors which automatically come with this time of the year can add unnecessary weight on the shoulders of those who are on their road to recovery.
Addiction recovery and holiday stressors
The holiday season generally means being around family members who can trigger unwanted emotions and childhood memories which are uncomfortable to deal with.
This time of year, is also notorious for bringing high levels of financial stress and fatigue which can aggravate the desire to engage in drug and alcohol abuse as a means to cope.
Complications with travel, being in unfamiliar environments and away from your addiction recovery support system and sober routines may also bring their own challenges regarding sobriety.
The good news is that there are several ways that anyone who is at any stage of addiction recovery can deal with the stressors of the festive season in order to avoid the risk of potential relapse.
Dealing with festive season stressors
Bring someone that you trust
Having a sober friend with you that you trust means that you have someone who can help take your mind off of an uncomfortable situation by offering compassionate support and guidance.
Furthermore, knowing that someone else is staying sober with you will make it much easier to avoid any temptations.
Have support close by
Whether it be a family member, friend or a sponsor, having someone supportive on call will provide you with extra comfort during tough situations.
Should you feel the temptation or craving take over, you can step away from the environment and give this person a call for a reminder and positive encouragement.
Establish what your response will be
By having an answer prepared for the moment when someone unknowingly offers you a drink will make saying no much easier.
Also, people who aren’t aware of your recovery will likely ask you why you aren’t drinking. There is no reason for you to have to explain yourself.
Answers such as “I have an early start to my day tomorrow” or “I am driving home tonight” will make the interaction with these people easier to manage.
Bring your own drinks to the gathering
Take non-alcoholic drinks with you and make sure you always have one in hand so that people do not feel the need to offer you drinks.
You choose where you want to be
Just because you have received an invitation to an event or celebration, it doesn’t mean that you are obliged to attend.
Check in with yourself and your current emotional and mental state and decide if you feel strong enough to deal with celebrations.
If you aren’t feeling strong enough, simply decline your invitation and stay at home where you feel safe and comfortable.
Get involved with the community
Take a look at lending a helping hand with community projects during the festive season by helping the less fortunate.
This is a good way to keep yourself busy, to avoid the traditional methods of celebration which may trigger unwanted emotions and is also extremely rewarding to give back.
Limit your time spent around your triggers
If being around certain family members or old friends stir up your emotions to the point of wanting to drink or use again, minimise the amount of time spent in their company.
This will help you avoid an unnecessarily pressurised situation.
Keep moving and stay active
By staying dormant you increase the chance of being bored and this may increase the chance of you picking up a drink.
However, if you stay active you are less likely to feel the need to drink or use any other substance. Go for a hike or a walk on the beach or even a day of baking a cake or cookies just to keep yourself busy and moving.
Step Away – Rehabilitation Centre in South Africa
At Step Away we provide high class addiction recovery programmes and support for any person who chooses to walk the path to recovery. Contact us today for more information.