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10 Ways to avoid Relapse this Holiday Season

The festive season is a time to eat, drink, and be merry.

But if you’re a recovering addict, the cocktails, parties, and good times can be a tough to try navigate.

Additionally, increased family time during the holidays can be emotional for many, especially those recovering from addiction. And for those without close family ties, loneliness may set in.

Therefore, we have gathered a few tips on how to stay sober this festive season.

10 ways to stay sober this festive season

1. Start Each Day with a Plan to avoid Relapse

Devise a plan for how you will deal with a situation where you are faced with possible relapse. The key is to stay focussed on your sobriety.

2. Evaluate Each Situation

It’s important to assess a situation before entering it. Try ranking situations as low, medium or high risk for you.

In early recovery, try and spend more time in low-risk situations and avoid high-risk.

Further into recovery, a medium to high risk situation, such as a party with an open bar, refer to your plan.

We suggest you arrive early and duck out a bit early. Take your own car, that way you can leave when you're ready.

3. Bring your own safe-drinks

Often, parties or events may not cater for non-drinkers. Bring along your own safe-drink to enjoy.

For instance, if champagne is a big temptation for you at a New Year’s party, bring a non-alcoholic sparkling drink to sip as the clock counts down.

4. Identify your Triggers

It’s important for addicts to know and understand their triggers.

Common triggers typically correspond to the acronym HALT:


  • when you feel hungry,
  • angry,
  • lonely,
  • or tired.


Make sure to take care of yourself, mentally and physically, to avoid these triggers.

5. Don’t forget to Eat

When you have low blood sugar, it can leave you anxious or irritable.

Consequently, low blood sugar can make you feel impulsive and tempted by substances. Make sure to have a nutritious meal or snack about every 3 hours.

6. Try to keep Stress under control

Substance abuse is typical response to dealing with stress and anxiety.

Try to avoid drinking or using drugs to deal with stress. Instead, take a few minutes to decompress and meditate.

Push away thoughts of substance use.

7. Distract Yourself

Often, having a friend with you at a social function who doesn’t drink or use drugs will help you stay sober.

Offer to help at the event, giving yourself tasks to stay busy and away from temptation.

8. Practice your Responses

It’s understandable, you may not be ready to divulge your recovery to your distant aunt at your family dinner.

Develop a discreet strategy for turning down alcoholic drinks.

9. Learn to manage your cravings

A craving typically last for about 20-minutes, if you can manage your craving for a short period, the urge to indulge should pass.

Remove yourself from your current setting, meditate, talk yourself out of it. Remind yourself how much is at risk if you give into your craving.

10. Pick a support team

Stay on track by making time to attend a few support meetings this holiday season.

Stay in contact with your sponsor and members of your Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous group.

Spend time with friends and family who support your recovery. Understand that friends who abuse substances may have to welcome the New Year without you.

Step Away Rehab Centre South Africa

On behalf of each of staff members at Step Away, we would like to wish everyone a happy festive season and safe travels to all.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their constant support and motivation.

As we look back upon the past year, we would like to acknowledge those who have helped us shape our business.

Additionally, we’d like to remind everyone to keep in mind this festive season, that not all of us are as fortunate, and that many are left hungry and homeless.

Be kind and be generous, you never know just how much one act of kindness can change someone’s life.

Thank you for a great year, and we wish you all the best as you embark on 2017.

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