Month: December 2014

10 Ways to Avoid Holiday Addiction Relapses


By Diana Rodriguez
Reviewed by Pat F. Bass, III, MD, MPH


Can you have a holly jolly holiday when you’re recovering from an addiction? Start each day with a plan
to stay sober when temptation abounds.



The temptation to turn to a vice can be sparked by a busy party schedule, shopping frenzies, or just being around family.
Take care of both your mind and body each day, and remind yourself what’s at stake if you relapse.
The holidays are a time to eat, drink, and be merry. But what if you’re a recovering addict? The season for cocktails, parties, and
good times can be a tough one to navigate unscathed.
“The holidays are a stressful time, and many people find that using a substance is a way of coping with stress,” says Kate
Rhine, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker and certified addiction counselor with Kaiser Permanente in Colorado


Ramped up family time also can be emotional for many, especially those recovering from addiction, Rhine adds. For people
without close family ties, loneliness may set in.


You don’t need alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to jingle your bells this holiday season, but you do need this go­to guide to stay
1. Start each day with a plan to fend off a holiday addiction relapse. “An alcoholic needs to wake up each morning thinking
about how to stay sober that day,” says Peter R. Martin, MD, a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology and director of the
Vanderbilt Addiction Center at the Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital in Nashville. “Once they have a plan, they are fine for the rest
of that day.” The key is staying focused on your goal of sobriety.
2. Evaluate each situation. Rank scenarios as low, medium, or high risk for you. In early recovery, spend more time in low­risk
situations and avoid high­risk, Rhine says. If you’re further into recovery and will be in a situation that is medium­ or high­risk,
such as a party with an open bar, rely on your plan. Plan to arrive early and duck out a bit early, she suggests. Drive yourself so
that you can leave when you’re ready.

3. Bring the party with you. Take along a food or safe drink that you enjoy. For instance, if champagne is a big temptation for
you at a New Year’s soiree, bring a flavored sparkling water to sip as the clock counts down.

4. Know your triggers. Every addict should know their triggers for relapse and how to manage them, Dr. Martin says. The most
common triggers go with acronym HALT — for when you feel hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. Take care of yourself, mentally and
physically, to ward off these triggers.

5. Don’t forget to eat. Low blood sugar can leave you anxious or irritable, Rhine says. This, in turn, can make you feel
impulsive and tempted to turn to substances. Have a nutritious meal or snack about every three hours.

6. Keep stress under control. Many people turn to alcohol or illegal substances as a way to cope with stress. So when stress
strikes, take a few minutes to decompress and meditate instead. Push away thoughts of substance use.

“Just because you have a thought doesn’t mean you have to act on it,” Rhine says. Also make time for regular exercise. “The
urge to drink alcohol or use a drug often feels physical,” she explains, so giving your body something to do can satisfy the

7. Distract yourself. Bring along a buddy who doesn’t drink, smoke, or use drugs to help you stay sober at social functions.
Stay in an area away from the bar, and strike up a conversation with someone. Offer to help your host so that you stay busy with little tasks.


8. Rehearse responses. If you’re not ready to share the fact that you’re in recovery with your elderly aunt or an out ­of­ touch
cousin at your family holiday dinner, use a discreet strategy for turning down alcoholic drinks or other substances: Create a
script that you can use to decline off ­limits offers.

9. Learn to move past your cravings. A craving only lasts about 20 minutes, Rhine says, so if you can stay strong for a short
period, the urge should pass. Move to a different setting, meditate, or breathe deeply. Talk yourself out of acting on your urge,
she suggests, by saying something like, “The reality is. I cannot stop at one drink, and I can choose to have something nonalcoholic
instead.” Remember how much is at risk if you give into your craving.

10. Lean on your support system. If you’re part of a support group, make time to attend a few extra meetings during the
holidays to stay on track. If you need help finding a support group, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence
offers a list of support organizations you can contact. Stay close with your supportive friends and family and those you’ve met
during your recovery journey, and understand that your friends who abuse substances may have to celebrate without you this


Curated from
Last Updated: 12/4/2014



The Many Benefits of Giving Up Alcohol

The Many Benefits of Giving Up Alcohol For Good

Drinking alcohol can be an enjoyable social experience: If it wasn’t enjoyable on at least some levels then it wouldn’t be such a popular pastime!  Research shows that each American drinks an average of 556 drinks every year [1] and whilst obviously some people will drink much more and some people will drink much less, it still shows that we are a nation who regularly consume excessive amounts of alcohol. The health benefits of regularly consuming very small amounts of alcohol are widely reported in the press [2], and it is true that drinking very small amounts of alcohol can be beneficial for your heart health and your blood pressure however the negative aspects of regularly consuming large amounts of alcohol are much more dangerous and by far outweigh any positives. In fact, giving alcohol up for good is much more beneficial for your health than drinking it: this is doubly true if you are regularly drinking more than the recommended daily alcohol allowance.

A Focus on Health

The health benefits of giving up alcohol for good are monumental. Drinking regularly can cause unwanted side effects such as indigestion, upset stomachs, and regular headaches.[3] After just a week or two without that regular alcohol ingestion though you will find that these symptoms disappear and that you feel fresher, happier and healthier. Regular alcohol consumption can also interfere with your sleeping patterns, causing your sleep to be disturbed. This can leave you feeling tired and lacking energy during your day to day tasks: again, something you will find that quickly changes once you give up alcohol for good. These short term health benefits of giving up alcohol are also accompanied by many long term benefits too. Cutting back on the amount of alcohol you drink (or better still, giving it up completely) will lower your risks of developing several serious and life threatening diseases, such as live disease, cancer, stroke, and even heart disease. Your liver health in particular [4] will benefit from giving up alcohol completely, and you will find that both your liver fat and levels of blood glucose levels will drop. Whilst an occasional glass of red wine may well be good for your heart, you’ll find that the benefits of giving up alcohol completely are far greater. If you are alcohol dependent, or are aware that you regularly drink more than you should then this is especially true, and giving up alcohol is far more favorable than regularly consuming more than you should.

Unexpected Benefits

As well as the health benefits of giving up alcohol, you will also find that there are several unexpected financial and social benefits too.[5] You will immediately find that you are saving a lot of money, and you will be able to use that for something constructive such as clearing any debts, making a down payment on your own home or simply taking a long overdue vacation. Many alcoholics or regular heavy drinkers don’t really realize quite how much money they are spending on alcohol: when you are drunk you may keep ordering drinks, or leave your credit card behind the bar and spend much more money than you can afford. Just a month or two off the booze and you will quickly see that unspent cash accumulate. Drinkers and alcoholics often assume that they need alcohol to have a good time, and their social lives often revolve around their local bars and clubs. However another benefit of giving up the booze will actually be the effect on your social life, which you are likely to see improve. You’ll make new sober friends (either through your rehab program or in your local AA meeting) and will enjoy trying your hand at new activities that don’t revolve around beer: why not take up a new active hobby that you’ve never tried before?

Giving up alcohol has so many incredible benefits and every aspect of your life will be positively affected by choosing to remove the booze. Why not try it for yourself and see how wonderful your alcohol free life could be?

Post written by:  Anne Fielding


Additional Reading

[1] “How normal is your drinking? Navigating the alcohol consumption curve”, Slate 

[2] “Alcohol: Balancing the risks and the benefits”, Harvard School of Public Health

[3] “Take a break from alcohol”, Drink Aware

[4] “Our Liver vacation: Is a dry January really worth it?”, New Scientist 

[5] “5 Unexpected Benefits of Sobriety” 

Blackouts – Are They Real or Just an Excuse? –

How many times have you found yourself uttering incredulous gasps, “What do you mean you don’t remember?” or engaging in an argument with someone you care about because of something they said or did while they were drunk? Have you ever had them just stare at you, stone faced, as if to challenge your recollection and/or flip it around to somehow being “your fault,” something you’d simply dreamed up or were blowing all out of proportion?

Surprisingly, perhaps, your loved one might incapable of remembering their behaviors while intoxicated – even if they were fully “there,” (meaning not passed out but still standing, talking, doing ‘stuff’). This is because they’ve likely experienced an alcohol-induced blackout.