Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Preparing for the Holidays While Recovering from Addiction: Know Your Triggers

While the holidays are about celebration and thanksgiving, it can be a stressful season and one full of triggers for a recovering addict. There are many factors that cause the holidays to be a difficult time for someone in recovery. Unfortunately, there is a higher acceptance of drinking and intoxication during this time of year, which creates an easy environment for someone in recovery to justify “slip-ups.” Being aware and being prepared can make all the difference! 

If you are a recovering addict or the friend or family member of someone in recovery, it is important to be aware of what may be a trigger that could lead to relapse. The holidays in the past may have been a time where the addiction was enhanced and celebrated. If so, they will hold all kinds of reminders and temptations to return to those old ways of celebrating. Attending parties with drugs or alcohol can add to the stress of the holiday for a person in recovery. There are often family tensions that arise, stress in preparing for celebrations, and loneliness is also a common struggle for individuals and particularly for those in recovery. All these things are stresses that can make remaining strong in the fight for recovery a challenge.
Ways to lessen the holiday stress:
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Keep a positive attitude (focus on the benefits of being clean and sober)
  • Get exercise (exercise produces natural dopamine which causes an individual to feel happier)
  • Keep yourself around people who will help you stay strong
Tips for Recovering Addicts in Facing the Holidays:

      1.  Begin new traditions (ones not centered around drugs and alcohol): Have substance-free parties and plan games and activities as the center of the party as opposed to drugs and alcohol.

      2.  If you go to a party where alcohol will be served, take a friend with you who will help you stay strong.
3.  If you find being at parties with alcohol sets off triggers for you to relapse, tell the host you are in recovery and you need to leave.

4.  Look for alcohol-free activities in the community (often put on for those in recovery).

5.  Help others. Focusing on other's needs can be a great way to take focus off your own problems and create motivation to continue fighting as you find yourself doing something useful for others. There is also joy that can be found in serving others.

6.  If the stress of the holidays seem too hard to remain clean and sober, call a helpline. Lafayette Crisis Center is a 24/7 helpline. Simply call 211. A listening ear can be a great help!
When Triggers Go Off:
Being aware of what things will trigger a desire for you to relapse during the holidays will help you be prepared when those triggers arise. Have an action plan ready so instead of letting the holidays take control of you, you take back the holidays and find a real reason to celebrate by remaining clean and sober!

In addition to the tips already listed above, it may help you to attend extra sobriety meetings over the holidays. Having someone to talk to is a huge help as this is a way of relieving stress. Know who you can go to, whether it be a counselor, sponsor, support group, a family member or friend ready and able to help you stay clean and sober.
Know that you don’t need drugs or alcohol to have a good time during the holidays!
Other helpful resources on facing relapse triggers around the holidays can be found at and

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