In earlier articles about how to avoid a relapse, we mentioned that you need to have a plan when tempting circumstances and difficult challenges arise.
With that in mind, the holidays present a whole new set of circumstances that can trigger a relapse, and you need to recognize what they are so you can be ready for of them.
Here are 3 major holiday circumstances than can trigger a relapse of alcohol or drug addiction along with how to avoid or prepare for them.
1. Stress from holiday shopping
Stress is especially prevalent during the holidays because of all the shopping and traveling involved. It might be tempting to cope with the hustle and bustle by going back to drinking or drugs.
To avoid this temptation, follow these tips to keep from stressing out during the holidays:
- Lower your expectations - You may want to be in 20 places at once, but don't take on more responsibilities than you can handle. Don't be afraid to say "no" when someone invites you to a holiday event. Take some time for yourself and relax.
- Set a schedule - Keeping yourself organized during the holidays will keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed. So put it all on paper instead of your head.
- Get plenty of sleep - It might be tempting to push your bedtime back one more hour to get something else done. But if you're tired and stressed, you'll get less done and be tempted to fall back into old addictions. Get eight hours of sleep to keep your mind fresh and able to resist temptations.
2. Depression due to public expectations
Every form of advertising you can think of shows a consistent message during Christmas time: the holiday season is a time of happiness with family.
But life isn't like what we see on TV. Some people either have family they won't be able to see for the holidays, or family they will see but have drama or conflicts with.
Seeing all these happy images that you can't experience may lead to depression, which can lead to seeking comfort in alcohol or drugs.
If you're away from family or have a drama-filled family, make sure you find a loving group of people you can surround yourself with.
If you're going through a 12-step program, which normally has accountability groups, have a list of friendly people you can call from that group to meet up and keep you accountable.
There are a variety of other things you can do to fight depression as well.
3. The "wrong" holiday parties
Avoid parties where people who encouraged you in your old habits are attending. They have an influence on you and can cause you to relapse.
If you're a recovering alcoholic, it would be best to avoid parties that serve alcohol. But if you do go to one that does, let people there know why you're avoiding alcohol so they can hold you accountable.
Always be on guard!
This obviously is a short list of holiday-related relapse triggers but they are common among most people. When it comes down to it, only you know what causes you to relapse. Know yourself and your weaknesses, and then plan accordingly.
Dave Dixon Long is Business & Marketing Director for Gallus Medical Detox Centers which provide upscale drug and alcohol detox, medically assisted to alleviate withdrawal symptoms with monitoring 24/7 by Registered Nurses, luxury private rooms, gourmet meals, Wifi, HDTV and patient confidentiality. This proven detox method was developed by Dr. Patrick Gallus after 15-plus years as an emergency room physician caring for alcohol and drug addicted patients.