happy holidaysLet’s face it: the holiday season is a minefield of relapse triggers.

People in recovery, especially those who are newly sober, often find that our mood grinds against the picture-perfect, home-for-the-holidays model set by the media and blasted at us for months on end.

In fact, this time of year often brings up memories of disappointing holidays past, making us vulnerable to feelings of resentment, isolation and melancholy. And with everyone toasting with alcohol at the drop of a hat, especially on New Year’s Day, holidays are a high-risk time for a recovering addict.

Here are some tips for avoiding the temptation to relapse at holiday events.

  • Make a plan. Schedule a 12-step meeting, or at least a call to your sponsor, before and after key holiday events and parties.
  • Be discriminating. Accept invitations for events that will put you together with people who will support your sobriety. Shun those where you know people will be drinking excessively or taking drugs.
  • Keep your hands full — of a safe drink of your choice. Prepare and hold your own beverage to avoid friends shoving alcoholic drinks at you.
  • Choose your company. Stay away from people you know are going to offer you alcohol or drugs. And avoid or walk away from people who make you angry or bring you down.
  • Stay strong. Fortify your emotional defenses by stepping up your fitness program. Get plenty of rest. Eat well and exercise. Take time to relax. A few moments of meditation works wonders in terms of relieving stress.
  • Get Outta There. Have an excuse ready to exit a gathering at which you feel uncomfortable, so you can leave on a moment’s notice without offending anyone. People understand there are always a lot of chores to do around the holidays and will give you a pass.
  • Give thanks. Year’s end is the perfect time to reflect on the things and people for which we are grateful. Put yourself at the top of the list, for the incredible achievement of staying sober for how many days or months it has been. Taking time to own and savor your accomplishment will help keep you firmly on your path.

Happy Holidays!

From the staff at Delray Beach IOP

Steve Cutler

About Steve Cutler

A freelance writer based in New York City and South Florida, Steve Cutler writes extensively on substance abuse, recovery and family systems.