Avoiding Relapse During the Holidays

The holidays are quickly approaching. While most people view this time of year with excitement and anticipation, others may experience anxiety or depression for a variety of reasons. For those in recovery the festive season can be a minefield of holiday trauma triggers that are tricky to navigate. Without the appropriate coping mechanisms and support in place, emotional challenges during the holidays can leave you seeking comfort or an escape through substances. Having a relapse prevention plan in place for the approaching holiday season is key to safeguarding your hard work and staying sober into the new year.

Avoiding Relapse: Identifying Holiday Triggers in Recovery

The first step in developing any relapse prevention plan is to identify potential triggers. This includes fairly obvious things like being around people who are actively using or keeping drugs or alcohol in your home, as well as triggers you may not anticipate. Some common triggers may include:

  • HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired)
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Romanticizing past substance use
  • Overconfidence
  • Strong emotions
  • Unaddressed trauma or mental illness

Holidays and recovery from addiction come with their own triggers. This time of year may be difficult to navigate for reasons such as:

  • Missing out on family events
  • Dysfunctional family or home life
  • Financial stress
  • Grief
  • Celebratory atmospheres
  • Traditions involving alcohol use

Being aware of these potential holiday trauma triggers is vital to creating a relapse prevention plan for this time of year.

Holiday Relapse Prevention: Creating an Action Plan

Whether you’ve weathered the holiday season sober previously or this is your first time, having a plan in place for dealing with cravings, triggers, and other challenges can make all the difference in your continued sobriety. Without a relapse prevention plan in place holiday trauma triggers can cause you to spiral back into old, negative habits.

Because no two recovery journeys are alike, your relapse prevention plan should be personalized to you. What works for one person may not be a viable option for everyone, so taking time to be honest with yourself and your needs is key. People who are in the early stage of recovery, for example, may need a more proactive approach to continued support including regular check-ins and extra therapy sessions. Others may be okay with just a periodic check-in with a trusted friend and some additional mindfulness. Some key factors that should be included in any relapse prevention plan are:

  • A point of contact you will reach out to before drinking or using drugs
  • Coping strategies for dealing with stress, anxiety, or other difficult emotions
  • Self-care steps for maintaining mental and physical well-being
  • A maintenance plan for everyday life
  • An accountability contract

If you need additional support, Discovery Point Retreat is here to help. As a leading rehab center in the Dallas area, we are fully prepared to help you get through the holiday season. If you do experience a relapse, Discovery Point Retreat can help you get back on track. For more information about how we can help you or your loved one, call us today.


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