It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but it can be the most dangerous for people in recovery. According to the CDC, overdoses increase in December and January, largely due to the onslaught of the holiday season. If you’re a person in recovery, you should know that relapse is not a mandatory part of any recovery journey. It’s possible to stay clean, sober, and sane this season — as long as you’re prepared with relapse prevention tips for the holidays.
Holiday Relapse Prevention Tip 1: Stay on Track
Early recovery is built upon structure and routine: regular 12 Step meetings, intensive outpatient classes for addiction recovery, daily meditation, daily journaling, meetings with a counselor, etc. As we grow in our recovery, we often stray from the original schedule of self-care that started us off on the right path. Now more than ever, it’s crucial to stick to your healthy routine. Dial back into your 12 Step meetings and healthy habits like keeping a gratitude list and calling your sponsor. In the stress of the season, it may feel like there’s not enough time to do it all. When you make recovery your priority, though, everything else will fall into place — and you’ll be able to show up as the best version of yourself all season long.
Holiday Relapse Prevention Tip 2: Stay Honest
Whether you’re attending 12 Step meetings, speaking with a counselor, or just texting with recovery friends, it’s essential that you stay honest during the holiday season. Don’t put a fake smile on your face if you’re struggling. We’re only as sick as our secrets, so if you’re feeling tempted to slip, be honest and share it with someone. Putting the truth out there will help you find relief and get the support you need to stay on track.
Holiday Relapse Prevention Tip 3: Stay Plugged In
It can be tempting to isolate yourself if you're not feeling full of holiday cheer, but that’s a perfect recipe for brewing up resentments, depression, and reasons to relapse. Force yourself to reach out to recovery friends or family in a way that is healthy for you. Even if you’re not up for going for a walk in the snow or grabbing some hot cocoa, reaching out via phone or text will help remind you that you’re not alone and you are valued.
Holiday Relapse Prevention Tip 4: Stay Selfish
The reality is this: Self-care is selfish — and that’s a good thing. Doing the things you need to do to stay healthy might conflict with the schedule of holiday events your spouse, mom, or kids have set for the season. It’s up to you to stay strong and to hold the boundaries that protect your healthy habits. You might decide to skip caroling this year so that you can volunteer to chat with newcomers at Central Office. Or, you might have to delay opening presents on Christmas morning so you can hit an early meeting. Your loved ones may push back, but deep down they want you to stay healthy. Part of building a life in recovery means creating a new lifestyle that will support your healthy choices. If your loved ones want you to stay clean and sober, they’ll need to go along with that. And if they don’t, you will have to stand up for yourself.
Holiday Relapse Prevention Tip 5: Build an Escape Plan
Part of protecting your recovery means removing yourself from situations that are unsafe. For example, you might decide to leave the holiday party when they start passing around shots. Or, if you’re feeling triggered by your mom on Christmas Day, you might need to leave to call your sponsor. This season, make sure that leaving is always an option. Set up your own transportation to events or make sure you can grab an Uber. You should never force yourself to stay somewhere that doesn’t feel safe. Listen to the small voice inside of you and leave when things get too challenging.
Bonus Relapse Prevention Tip: Ask for Help
If your usual strategies aren’t working and you feel like you are slipping, reach out for help. At Sunflower Recovery addiction treatment near Kansas City, we’re always happy to lend a friendly ear and give you tips on how to hold on to your recovery for this season and the long-term. It’s as easy as sending us a chat right from our website, or calling us HERE. One phone call could be enough to keep you on the right path into the new year and beyond. All you have to do is ask.