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Recovery Methods For the Holiday Season

By December 5, 2018 June 15th, 2023 No Comments
A nice diorama of a car, a dad, two kids and 6 trees with a Christmas Tree store.

Our previous blog we discussed some of the difficulties that the holiday season can cause for people who are struggling with addiction or in recovery. It also detailed some methods for coping with these difficulties. This blog, with input from our clinical therapists, offers some further advice on managing the holiday season while dealing with addiction. Our next blog will focus on how to identify if a loved one is struggling during the holiday period. It will also discuss how you offer your support.

Have a Plan

As we approach the holidays, it is important to consider potential triggers or stressful scenarios ahead of time. This will enable you to develop a strategy for dealing with them. You will probably have a good sense of the kind of situations you will be in and the people you will be spending time with. You might be apprehensive about a family event, for example. If you have prepared a plan for dealing with these situations, you will feel more assured when you encounter them. You will also be better equipped to deal with them.

Avoid Certain Scenarios

You may anticipate certain scenarios which will be too distressing or difficult and should simply be avoided. If certain people, places or events seem as though they will create intensely triggering scenarios, have an excuse prepared for leaving them early or avoiding them entirely.

Take the Initiative

Over the holiday season, many social events will involve alcohol or drugs. This can make seeing family and friends a difficult process and can result in feelings of alienation or isolation. When possible, it is a good idea to take the initiative and arrange to meet people in non-triggering environments. Arranging to meet during the day to go for a walk instead of meeting in a bar in the evening, for example, will allow you to socialise in a relaxed, comfortable manner.

Attend Meetings or Groups

If you attend twelve-step meetings or other types of recovery support groups, you should identify a local meeting you can attend in advance. This will mean that, if you are struggling with the demands of the holiday season, you will already know where you can go for support. Speaking about the challenges of the season in a supportive environment might also help to manage cravings and stress.

Confide In Someone

If there is someone you trust and can confide in about your concerns, potential triggers and strategies for dealing with them, it can be very beneficial to speak openly with them. If they will be present for some of the situations you have anticipated, they will be able to offer support. Even if they will not be, talking through concerns and coping methods can be really useful as it will help you to consider these issues carefully and to unburden yourself of some of the pressure you feel.

Remove Yourself From Triggering Situations

When you encounter stressful or triggering scenarios, remove yourself from the situation and take some time and space to compose yourself. It is worth thinking about this ahead of time and identifying a strategy for removing yourself from a situation. For example, you can say that you feel tired or ill. Remind yourself that cravings are only temporary. Explain to yourself that you are in control of your actions and will resist your cravings. Remember that every time you resist a craving, this represents real progress.

Structure Your Time

Structuring your time carefully can be helpful in a number of ways. Having a clear idea of how your day will be spent will allow you to relax into a temporary routine. It will help you to foresee potential issues or triggering scenarios and form a plan for dealing with them. It will also ensure that you have enough time to rest and take care of yourself during a busy period.

Practice Self-Care

It is always important to practice self-care, but this is particularly true during the holiday season. Due to the hectic nature of this period and the harsh weather conditions, it is very easy to become worn down, physically and emotionally. This can make you more susceptible to relapse. Make sure to schedule your time to ensure that you get enough rest and exercise to avoid becoming exhausted. Maintaining a healthy diet can also really help. Making sure that you factor in some time for yourself to avoid becoming worn down by constant socializing. If you have any mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety or PTSD, it is extremely important to manage them appropriately and to take any medications precisely as prescribed.

Prepare Responses

You may not have disclosed to your friends or colleagues that you are in recovery. If this is the case, it is a good idea to have a response prepared in case you are asked why you are not drinking or otherwise using substances. Saying that you are driving or that you have to be up early might help to avoid a difficult situation. Having an alternative non-alcoholic beverage to hand can also be very useful. This is particularly the case on occasions such as New Year’s Eve, when people are often expected to drink.

Be the Designated Driver

If possible, driving yourself to events or offering to be the designated driver for a small group can be a great way of avoiding drinking or using drugs. If you can help out others, this will be appreciated, providing you with some deserved encouragement to avoid substances. It also provides you with a readymade excuse for avoiding drinking or using drugs.

Have An Ally

Having an ally at an event, or throughout the holiday season, can be of great support. Consider asking a family member or friend to join you in staying sober over the holidays. If this is not possible, identifying someone who is sober and socializing with them at events can help you to cope with these situations.

Occupy Yourself

Occupying yourself with other activities at events that may be triggering can also help to manage these situations. This may distract you from any cravings you may experience. It will also help you to feel less self-conscious about not drinking or using other substances. Helping the host or organizing an activity at an event, for example, can help to make potentially difficult situations less problematic and more enjoyable.

The Bottom Line

The holiday season can be very challenging for people coping with addiction. However, it may also be an opportunity to make great progress in recovery. Entering the season with the right mindset and the appropriate preparations will give you a strong foundation for continued recovery. The holidays may also allow you to change important relationships in your life in a progressive way. It may also present opportunities to identify some of the underlying causes and consequences of your addictions and to develop new methods and supports in your recovery.

If you have concerns about yourself or a loved one’s addiction problems this holiday season, contact Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres for further information on addiction treatment programs in Ontario and recovery.

Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres

Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres

We offer residential and outpatient rehab treatment programs for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders.

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