Holidays and Relapse: Why It’s Hard to Stay Sober

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Holidays and Relapse: Why It’s Hard to Stay Sober

The connection between holidays and relapse is clearly an issue for anyone who is trying to remain sober.  Let’s look at a few of the reasons why this is true.

What makes the holidays so difficult for someone in recovery?  Much of the problem has to do with the way many Americans celebrate.  It’s not unusual for the festivities to include an abundance of beer, wine, and alcohol.  For someone in recovery from alcohol addiction, this can be a recipe for disaster.

Impact of Stress and Temptation During Holiday Events

During the holidays, a person in recovery must carefully navigate parties and deal with strong emotions or family issues all at the same time.  The combination of stress and temptation can be overwhelming for someone who is transitioning from addiction.

Of course, a person has the option of not attending the parties.  But, many of these individuals worry that they will offend someone if they don’t show up.  So, they take a chance and hope they can remain strong in their ability to not take a drink.  Far too often, this turns out to be the first step in a relapse that is difficult to control.

Emotions, Depression, Holidays and Relapse

For most people, the holidays are a time of joy and celebration.  But, many others struggle with grief, depression, and loneliness during this time of year.  It could be that they’ve recently lost a loved one and are saddened by the person’s absence during the festive holidays.  These emotions can lead a person to self-medicate with alcohol.

Seeking additional support can be a solution for someone who is concerned about the holidays and relapse.  Support groups, church, or community programs are a good way to gain support from others who are struggling with the same issues.

Have an Exit Plan Before Attending the Party

What this means is that you plan how to escape before the heavy drinking starts.  You could go early, then leave early.  Another option is to take someone with you who is also sober to serve as “wingman.”  Avoiding alcoholic beverages will be easier if you feel you aren’t the only sober person around.

Handling Family Issues

The holidays often bring distant family members who always seem to cause emotional responses.  Maybe it’s a brother who always causes drama.  Or, you may be worried about sharing the festivities with an ex-spouse for the sake of the children.  It seems that the holidays bring a host of obstacles to avoid.

Again, taking a sober friend that you trust can be a good way to navigate through family drama during holiday events.  Or, make sure your counselor or sponsor will be available to take your call if you need additional guidance or support during the party.

Put Your Sobriety First

The important thing to remember is that your sobriety comes first.  You worked hard in rehab to become the sober person you are today.  So, if you feel uncomfortable attending events that promote alcohol, you can decline the invitation.  Also, you must remember that you are not the only one who is worried about the holidays and relapse.  But, you have the capacity to shine through the challenges and maintain your sobriety.

Finding Help for Addiction or Relapse

If you relapse during the holidays, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed at being sober.  The best way to avoid going back to your old drinking habits after relapse is to get back into treatment before things get out of control.

Contact us at A Forever Recovery if you’ve relapsed and want to get back on the path to recovery.  Or, if you know someone who needs treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, we offer a comprehensive program that is right for your needs or your loved one’s needs.

Resources:

niaaa.nih.gov – The Truth About Holiday Spirits

drugabuse.gov – Understanding Drug Use and Addiction DrugFacts

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