The holidays are a time of peace, joy, celebration, and relaxation. For many, it really is the most wonderful time of the year. However, if you’re in recovery from addiction, the holiday season can be quite difficult. It’s easy to be tempted by all the holiday cheer and fall back into old habits. That’s why it’s important for people who are recovering from drug addiction to have a plan for how to stay sober during the holidays. In this blog post, we will give you tips on how to stay strong during the holiday season.
Identify and avoid your triggers
Being able to identify what your relapse triggers are is an important part of staying sober through the holidays. Knowing what tempts you to slip can help you avoid those situations. It may be helpful to make a list of your triggers and then plan ahead of time on how to deal with them if they arise. As you’re making this list, you’ll want to note whether each item on your list is an internal or external relapse trigger.
Once you’ve recognized your triggers you can make plans to avoid them or at least limit your exposure to them. For example, if one of your triggers is parties where alcohol is served, you can limit the amount of time you spend at those events or even decide not to attend.
Maintain your recovery routine
People in recovery thrive off of structure. Unfortunately, the holiday season usually creates busyness in your schedule that isn’t typically there. While this can throw your normal routine out of whack, it’s important to try to maintain the structure of that routine as well as you can. This will provide less opportunity for novel situations to trigger a relapse.
Remember to H.A.L.T.
There are certain feelings that make us more susceptible to making decisions we wouldn’t normally make. Because of this, it’s important to recognize the negative feelings that could make a person more vulnerable to making a decision they’ll regret. The H.A.L.T. acronym can be a helpful tool for identifying the feelings that leave a person vulnerable. H.A.L.T. stands for hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. Experiencing any of these feelings can set you up for a struggle, so let’s explore some ways to defend against them.
Make it a point to eat regularly. It can be tempting to wait to eat until that big holiday dinner, but that can leave you feeling hungry throughout the day. Eating small snacks throughout the day can help stave off hunger and keep your mood under control.
Family can sometimes be tough to deal with. Avoid controversial conversations that you know will get your blood boiling. Other good ways to help fight off anger include prayer, exercise, and spending time in nature.
Feelings of loneliness can have a powerful negative effect on your recovery journey. Try making a list of people who can be there for you to support you during the holidays, even if it’s just through a phone call. The people on this list could be friends, family members, or peers who have already overcome addiction.
All the events and parties that come up during the holidays can throw off your sleep schedule. Be sure to prioritize rest and get a full 8 hours of sleep as often as you can.
Don’t be ashamed of your recovery
There are a couple of different ways that being in recovery could make you feel shame during the holidays. On one hand, you may feel shame that you have to be in recovery at all. You may feel embarrassed to be in this situation in the first place. On the other hand, you may feel shame when other people question your choices to not use drugs or alcohol. If people around you are using them, the shame may make you feel pressure to conform.
Although both of these situations make it easy to feel ashamed, you don’t need to feel that way. Recovering from addiction is a very difficult journey and it takes a strong person to do it. You should speak openly about your recovery if you feel comfortable doing so. When your loved ones hear your story, it will help them better understand your situation. This understanding will help them know how to properly support you.
There’s no other way to distract yourself from pesky cravings than to go out and help others. The holidays offer a lot of opportunities to give your time and resources to those who are less fortunate. Situations like this help put life into perspective, which can be really helpful as you’re wrestling with temptation.
Get help from Isaiah House after a relapse
If you do give in to temptation during the stressful holiday season, that doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Tomorrow is a new day. Furthermore, help is available to you through residential or outpatient treatment. Reach out to us if you or a loved one is struggling with substance use disorder during the holiday season. We’ve helped thousands of men and women break free from the grip of addiction, and we’d love to walk with you through your recovery journey.