If you’re in recovery from addiction, you may be anxious about the upcoming holiday season. After all, the holidays can be a difficult time for many people, even those who aren’t in recovery. But if you’re worried about coping with the upcoming weeks, you’re not alone. Many people in recovery have to take extra steps during the holiday season to stay in touch with recovery and focus on what matters.
Some people in recovery say that the holidays themselves are a trigger, while others struggle with family problems, trauma in their past, guilt and estrangement. At the same time, there are plenty of drinks available and people who use drugs use them heavily around this time of year.
What are your biggest triggers?
People in recovery need to be honest with themselves, understand their emotions, and learn more about triggers and how to cope with them. After all, triggers can be a catalyst for using, especially when an addicted person is feeling fragile or in pain. Finding the answers to these questions often involves talking with other people in recovery and asking questions.
Talk with your sponsor and support network about the things that trigger you, and make a plan to cope with them. Decide how you will cope with any temptations or interactions that might be painful to you. Very often, family can be a trigger for intense feelings that you may not feel ready to cope with.
If you live with depression or other mental health issues, then it’s time to be extra vigilant. No one deserves to suffer or feel alone no matter what time of year it is. Please reach out to somebody in your support network.
What’s the plan if you’re triggered?
Make a plan to check in with sober buddies or your sponsor, preferably over the phone but texting is a great way to do this, too, especially when you’re trying to be discreet.
For some people, holidays are too painful or tempting to participate in. Let people know that you’re not celebrating with your family; there are often many sober events held by 12-steppers this time of year. Partipate, don’t isolate.
Leaving a holiday event is always options; work with supportive others to create an “escape plan”. If you feel like using, that plan should include getting to a 12-step meeting. Experts in recovery will recommend you go to a 12-step meeting at the end of the day no matter what, especially if you are still a newcomer.
If alcohol or other drug use is tempting you, it’s best to plan to leave the gathering altogether. Taking care of your sobriety is the most important thing this year.
Remember to practice self-care and take time to destress.
Make the holiday a time to reach out to others, especially friends in recovery. Ask them how they are doing, too! Reaching out is such an important part of recovery and mental health this time of year.
It’s important to remember that you’re not alone, and help is available, even during the time of year that there are gatherings and family celebrations.
Your health and life is valuable and important, and there are thousands of people out there, in recovery, going through similar experiences.
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