A Holly, Jolly Season with Potential Relapse Triggers

If you are wondering how to stay sober during the holidays, you are not the only one. This is a very difficult time of year for people in recovery, for several reasons. Not only are we in the darkest days of the year, with the sun setting around dinner time, but we are also surrounded by a multitude of pressures, expectations, and stress.

If you or a loved one is suffering from any form of addiction or abuse, please call Sylvan Detox at (818) 308-3099.

Thanksgiving starts off with incredibly elaborate traditions around food and family togetherness, followed closely by the Christmas season, with Jingle Bells, Black Friday sales, and invitations to booze-filled festivities around every corner. Hanukkah celebrations and Kiddush tie alcohol in with religion. And directly after these holidays, we find ourselves at New Years’ Eve, with its champagne, resolutions, and expensive cocktail dresses. The stress of participating in the family dinners, buying gifts, traveling, dressing up, and decorating, along with the sense of being “outside” or left out from some of the holiday cheer can be devastating, especially when you are new to recovery.

9 Reasons Why the Holidays Can Be Difficult for Those in Recovery

Holidays can be a difficult time for people in recovery because of:

  • Stress around holiday meal preparations and to-do lists
  • Family members and other guests create a hectic atmosphere
  • Financial stress from gift buying
  • Pressure from loved ones to be happy and engage in potentially difficult activities
  • The stress of traveling and staying in somebody else’s home
  • Disrupted routines cause you to miss taking medication, exercising, or eating healthy food
  • Expected attendance at holiday parties for work, family meals, and social gatherings where there may be alcohol and drugs
  • Feelings of loneliness and sadness become more pronounced this time of year
  • Feeling pressure to experience “holiday cheer” which may not feel the same as it once did

20 Ways to Maintain Your Sobriety During the Holidays

If you are wondering how to stay sober during the holidays, the following tips are for you. You may wish to take preventative measures before you join in the festivities like:

  • Going into it knowing for a fact you are not going to drink
  • Let friends and family members know your boundaries before you arrive
  • Ask the host to stock non-alcoholic drinks away from the bar
  • Invite a sober friend along with you for support
  • Remind loved ones about what you have been through and what may be triggering
  • Schedule appointments ahead of time to speak with
  • If you are traveling, find out where and when local 12-step meetings take place
  • Practice saying “no” in a way you are comfortable with, and come up with something to say to people who won’t take “no” for an answer (your “elevator speech”)

While you are at a difficult, stressful, or triggering event like a party with drinking and drugs present or a tense family dinner, you may wish to:

  • Remind yourself that everything does not need to be perfect, keeping realistic expectations about what to expect
  • Keep a positive attitude, instead of focusing on what you are missing out on, focus on positive connections and relationships, allow yourself to have fun, and get excited
  • Let the host know you may leave early, they will understand
  • Remember that most people are kind and understanding, and are not judging you
  • Make sure you cover all your basic needs, getting enough sleep, eating healthy food, and taking steps to reduce stress along the way
  • Remember that even though you prepared your “elevator speech” on why you do not drink, you also do not owe anyone an explanation or your life story if you do not feel like telling it. A simple “I don’t drink” is enough
  • Avoid engaging in fights or with people pushing your boundaries, instead, just walk away

You can also avoid triggers altogether by:

  • Leaving the event if you find the environment too difficult or tempting
  • Throwing your own party or dinner, and specifying to guests that it is a sober event
  • Start your own holiday tradition based on what you like to do, not what you are “supposed” to do
  • Treat yourself, with activities that promote self-care and self-love, whether that is baking cookies, working out extra hard, or buying yourself a little gift to enjoy, you are number one this holiday season

What to do if You Relapse During the Holidays

First of all, it’s okay if you have slipped up. Do not beat yourself up. Recovery is not an easy one-way path. There are often bumps in the road, and if you have found yourself drinking or using drugs during the holidays, you can always stop, evaluate your motives and your needs, and get back on your path to sobriety. Here are some things you can do if you relapse during the holidays:

Remove yourself from the situation. If holiday parties and family pressure are too much for you this year, that’s okay. You can go home. Your health comes first, and if that means you have to miss a family tradition, the people you love most will understand.

Find support. This looks different for everybody, depending on your comfort level and location, but you may wish to find a local 12-step group, talk to your therapist, or let a close friend or family member know what is going on.

Be honest with yourself. Is it time to go back to a rehab facility for further treatment? Only you can know for certain, so look deep down within yourself and find out if this was a minor slip or if it was something more profound.

Get Help with Addiction Any Time of the Year at Sylvan Detox

If you have experienced a relapse, or if you are worried about how much you have been drinking or using drugs, please call us at Sylvan Detox at any time of the year. The holidays are difficult for many people, but when it comes to addiction, every day can be hard. Overcoming cravings, withdrawal symptoms, psychological symptoms, behavioral issues and habits, and social pressure is a lot to deal with on your own, so we are here to help you.

At Sylvan Detox, we offer drug and alcohol detox and rehabilitation programs that are individualized, with comprehensive and integrated treatments including medical care, behavioral therapy, group therapy, individual therapy, fitness and nutrition programs, dual diagnosis treatments for mental health, and creative healing programs. We have spiritual healing programming as well, with yoga, breathwork, massage therapy, and sound therapy, incorporating holistic care with an evidence-based scientific approach so you get the best of both worlds. We are here to help you stop drinking and using drugs, and to provide you with the long-term recovery resources, sobriety skills, and relapse prevention tools you need, along with connections to outpatient rehab facilities, sober living homes, 12-step groups, and other support in your area.

Returning to rehab after relapsing is not a failure on your part, and at Sylvan Detox you will have a new opportunity to find treatments that work for you on an individual level. Please call us today if you need help with your addiction or if you have any questions about insurance verification, the accommodations, and amenities available at our luxury treatment center, or if you are having a hard time staying away from drugs and alcohol. We are here for you and can help you get back on the right track.