When you are struggling with substance addiction and recovery, the holidays can be the worst time of the year instead of the happiest. The issue is that there are many relapse triggers that can be intrinsic to the holidays. Avoiding or minimizing these triggers could be your best bet on keeping the holidays festive and safe for you.
Five of the worst holiday relapse triggers include:
- Parties with only alcohol to drink: When you attend a holiday party, it is crucial that you know what to expect when you arrive. Specifically, you need to know what is going to be served. Without any ill-will, many party hosts do make the blunder of only preparing alcoholic drinks for attendants. The only non-alcoholic option might be water that comes out of the tap. When there isn’t an option to enjoy a drink that’s tastier than tap water, the temptation to reach for a cocktail can go up.
- Toxic family members: It’s not much of an assumption to say that most families have at least one family member who gets on peoples’ last nerves, sometimes intentionally. Spending time around “toxic” people is not good for your mental health and morale. If they are able to chip away too much at your mental wellbeing just by stirring up trouble at a holiday party, then you could feel frustrated and look toward old habits for “comfort.” Keep your distance from toxic family members or don’t go to holiday get-togethers with them.
- Last-minute shopping: Picking out a holiday gift for a loved one can be stressful, especially when you know they are picky or always buy whatever they want right when they see it. The situation will only get more stressful if you have to go to a store to pick up the gift, rather than being able to order it online. Feeling rushed to do some last-minute shopping could be the stress that tips you out of sobriety and into a relapse with alcohol or drugs. To help avoid last-minute shopping stresses, you should do what you can to plan all your shopping well in advance.
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): When the weather gets colder and the days get shorter, do you feel more depressed or anxious than usual? If so, you might experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is characterized by a drop in happiness and mental wellbeing during the winter season. Although it is possible to experience SAD during the summer if you like the winter. You should speak with your medical provider about getting SAD diagnosed and for more information about it. What you should know now is that SAD can trigger a relapse if the depression and anxiety it causes go unchecked.
- New Year’s champagne: This last trigger is the most specific out of them all: champagne handed out at New Year’s Eve parties. Champagne has become more synonymous with midnight on New Year’s than Christmas trees for Christmas. If you’re celebrating New Year’s Eve at any location other than your own home, then you need to be prepared to see a lot of people drinking champagne. If that sounds like too big of a trigger for you, then this year might be one to celebrate in the warmth of your own home, where you can invite a few people who know there won’t be any champagne or wine for NYE.
We of Mount Sinai Wellness Center hope you have a great holiday season with as few potential relapse triggers as possible. Please remember that if you do relapse, though, you have not failed. Relapse happens to many people in recovery, especially those with strong addictions. What is more important is that you know how to stand up and fight again if you do. We can help. Contact us now.