Posted: Thursday, December 17, 2015
Chances are for your family, the holidays are a time of joy and celebration. But for many grappling with addiction and mental health obstacles, they can be anything but. While the often-repeated statistic that suicide rates spike during the holidays is a myth, the emotions associated with this time of year coupled with holiday parties can challenging for those trying to stay clean.
1. Make a game plan. You can mitigate the risk of a relapse by planning ahead. Having an exit time and strategy in mind for a party can save you the stress of worrying about it later. Try to bring a sober friend to the party and rehearse responses to invitations to partake in drugs or alcohol.
2. Take some time to relax. You don’t have to be in recovery to become overwhelmed by the expectations of the holidays. A variety of stressors, from family gatherings to gift-giving can cause someone to relapse. TPC’s director of Care Integration, Allison Bernier, says taking even a few minutes to de-stress can help. “Sometimes simple relaxation techniques like deep breathing or yoga can be what you need to diffuse a situation you think is out of control,” said Bernier.
3. Know your triggers. Recognizing where you’ve gone wrong in the past is a crucial part of recovery, and you should always anticipate situations where you’re likely to be put in a difficult spot. It’s best to avoid people and place that you know will make you want to use.
4. Stay connected to your support system. According to Thomas Joyce, associate director of TPC’s Anchor Recovery Community Center, the options for reaching out don’t disappear. “Many families mistakenly think the holidays are an inappropriate time for treatment, when actually it’s the time many people need it most,” said Joyce. “At Anchor, we recommend that those in early recovery to keep their radar up and increase their meeting frequency, sometimes as much as double or more.”
5. Become part of someone else’s support system. Another great way to get through the holidays is to help someone else with similar circumstances, a recovery strategy endorsed by Joyce. “The rewards you receive from giving back are numerous, and why not help someone else and yourself at the same time?” said Joyce.
6. Think about what’s really important. Truly appreciating the time spent with family and friends can be what keeps you focused on sobriety. During this time of year, staying committed to your recovery goals is be better than any material gift you can buy your friends and family.
With the right planning and support you can stay on track while still getting to experience some of that holiday cheer.
Anchor Recovery Community Center has daily recovery meetings; click here for the meeting and event calendar.