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 http://www.everydayhealth.com/news/ways-avoid-holiday-addiction-relapses/
Last Updated: 12/4/2014