5 Holiday Stressors to Avoid in Recovery

5 Holiday Stressors to Avoid in Recovery

In what seemed like a blink of an eye another year is coming to a close as we experience 2013’s holiday season.

Close up picture of a stream of holiday lights.

While the holiday season is a time for celebration and spending time with loved ones, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s can also be extremely stressful for those in addiction recovery; especially those early in recovery.

If you or a loved one have struggled with addiction and are in fear of relapse during the holiday festivities, remember, there are plenty of safe and sober alternatives to celebrate.

Preparing a safe alternative holiday action plan can go a long way in avoiding relapse. In doing so, one of the most important things an individual can do is to be aware of and avoid the five holiday stressors that potentially lead to relapse.

These 5 stressors can include:

  1. Parties: During the holidays it may seem as if everyone is partying, decorating, sending out invitations, and stocking up on food and alcohol. Oftentimes just the knowledge that there is a party to attend is enough to add to an individual’s stress level. This combined with the knowledge that there will be alcohol or even drugs present can serve as a trigger; as many may in turn associate party attendance with past use.
  2. Financial: Sometimes the crowded stores, holiday gift lists, and extra bills pre and post-holidays can take a toll on an individual’s ability to manage stress during this time. This is crucial as in early recovery having successful coping skills may be difference between succumbing to financial stress and relapsing and having a safe and sober holiday season. During this time it may be best to avoid buying expensive gifts or agree to any financial obligations that could come back to haunt you.
  3. Emotional: Unfortunately, along with all the celebrations, the holiday season is one of the most stressful times of the year when it comes to emotional turmoil; as feelings of shame, guilt, humiliation, embarrassment, anger, and depression may be common during this time. As a result, many of those in recovery report they experience increased anxiety with respect to triggers and cravings during the holidays.
  4. Family Conflict: During the holiday season high volume stressors can arise with the close contact with family members. This in addition to the likelihood that alcohol will be served during family get-togethers or parties can only increase the potential for relapse. For example, some family scenarios may open old wounds and drive an individual to crave drugs or alcohol.
  5. Disruption in schedules, time demands: Normal routines are oftentimes disrupted during the holiday season; which can put a serious stress on sobriety. Additionally during this time your regular meeting attendance, exercise routine, and even healthy eating patterns can get disrupted as well.

Avoiding these 5 major relapse triggers during the holiday season can go a long way in helping to maintain long-term recovery. Having a plan during this stressful time such as, doing what you’ve found effective so far, attending meetings regularly, scheduling sober activities, and preparing a polite way to say no to invitations can help keep the holidays fun and festive for everyone.

Addiction recovery doesn’t need to be a hindrance on celebrating this time of year. If you or someone you love is in need of addiction help don’t let another day pass by without reaching out for help.
Are you fearful to enter a drug rehab center during a time of family and togetherness? Learn more about the benefits to starting your treatment program now instead of after the holidays pass – 10 Reasons to Start Drug Rehab During the Holidays.


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