OVERCOMING RECOVERY CHALLENGES DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON

Stay Safe This Halloween
October 24, 2016
Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA)
October 28, 2016

Montgomery, AL– The Holiday season is vastly approaching. This is a time for spending time with family, exchanging gifts, and spreading love. However, this can be a difficult time for someone who is in recovery. This poses an even greater challenge for them because drug and alcohol use is everywhere.

The holiday season can also be an emotional time when family tensions may surface. Memories of loved ones can lead to depression. It is during these times a person I recovery can find justification to relapse.

Destination Hope Drug Rehab for Women suggests that the first key to not falling victim to relapse during the holidays is awareness, education and preparation. It is human nature to enlist the help of coping mechanisms during times of strife, and resisting that temptation is hard. Bradford Health Services provides a five step Recovery Prevention Plan for the holiday season:

  • Acknowledge the Risks
  • Have a Plan
  • Practice Saying No
  • Use Your Support System
  • Find the Holiday Spirit

Many holiday gatherings are in a non-sober environment. Music, friends, advertisements, stress from shopping, and certain expectations can trigger a relapse. The Recovery Prevention Plan suggests that it is important to prepare for the holiday activities and learn what to do before things go wrong. Saying no to drugs and alcohol is not enough. Saying no to activities that may put you in situations that you do not want to be in is also necessary. The plan recommends saying things such as “Thanks for thinking of me but…” or “Sounds lovely but no thank you.”

Another focus of Recovery Prevention Plan emphasizes using the support from coaches, counselors, and sponsors. They have a better understanding of the issue than family and friends.  Embracing the true purpose of the holiday season will help you to look beyond the traditions.

There are a number of ways that people in recovery can manage temptation during the holiday season. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), those who belong to AA may want to increase their attendance at meetings at this time of year. They will gain support from the other members and will be able to talk about any concerns. Lots of other people in the meetings will share similar concerns, and there can be a great strength in numbers.

There are usually plenty of events on during the holiday seasons where alcohol is not served. Dances and social occasions specifically aimed at people in recovery are usually held. NIAAA suggest that the holiday season is a good time of year to focus more on recovery. This can be done by reading books related to recovery or other inspirational material.

Destination Drug Rehab for Women suggests having a non-alcoholic beverage in your hand at all times so no one tries to force one on you. Do your best to surround yourself with sober support during the holidays as well as there is strength in numbers and you won’t feel like the only person in attendance not engaging in substance abuse.

Sometimes a person in recovery may slip and drink on the spur of the moment. This risk is higher during the holiday season. A slip can easily lead to a full-blown return to addiction so it needs to be managed effectively. According to NIAAA, the individual who has a slip should:

  • Stop drinking immediately. There is a temptation to justify continued drinking with the idea, “well I’ve already done it so I might as well try to enjoy it”. The longer the individual continues to drink the less likely they will be to return to sobriety.
  • Seek immediate help. This can involve contacting a therapist or going to a fellowship meeting.
  • Redouble efforts in recovery. If people have a slip it is a sign that they have gone off course. They will need to put more effort into their recovery in order to avoid a return to their addiction.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency (NCADD) alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States: 17.6 million people, or one in every 12 adults, suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence along with several million more who engage in risky, binge drinking patterns that could lead to alcohol problems.

More than half of all adults have a family history of alcoholism or problem drinking, and more than 7 million children live in a household where at least one parent is dependent on or has abused alcohol. Research from NCADD shows 88,000 deaths are annually attributed to excessive alcohol use and that alcoholism is the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the nation.

For more information about managing recovery and the dangers of alcohol visit www.niaaa.nih.gov.

The mission of COSA-NCADD is to reduce the incidence and prevalence of the disease of alcoholism, other drug addiction diseases, and related problems. For more information about COSA- NCADD call 334-262-1629 or visit www.cosancadd.org

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