Sometimes protecting your sobriety during the chaotic holiday season can seem like a full-time job. We all tend towards unrealistic holiday expectations, as well as over-commitment, unhealthy eating, financial strain, and fatigue. And let’s not forget the stress involved with Covid-19. As a result, accessing our normal addiction recovery support system and sober routines is harder. Don’t leave yourself vulnerable to relapse.
L.A. CADA wants you to know that there are several time-trusted ways to prevent holiday relapse:
• Identify Your Personal Sober Strategies. List your relapse triggers and put a plan in place right now to address them. Feel empowered to limit your time in stressful situations — always have an escape plan. Relapse prevention means being aware of the people, places and things that could trigger trouble. And planning ways to stay sober during those inevitable situations. Reach out to sober friends and treatment professionals when your triggers become too much for you.
• Make an Attitude Adjustment. Talk with your sponsor or a friend who understands recovery and express the feelings and expectations you have wrapped up in the holidays—especially if you find yourself replaying childhood experiences or bad memories during this time of year. This is called “calculating reality.” Lower those expectations and be especially forgiving of yourself and others. Look-out after the holidays, too. A buildup of stress and resentment can lead to rationalizations, denial, and relapse. Remember, the disease of addiction is just as powerful the day after a holiday as it is on the day of and the day before. Recovery is a one-day-at-a-time endeavor, no matter what season.
• Be of Service. You, you’re not just anyone. You are in recovery from active addiction, and that means you have the capacity for tremendous courage and change. Someone out there needs that. Send a card to someone at a homeless shelter, phone an elderly friend who may be depressed this at this time of year. Just go out there and pay it forward. You’ll be surprised at how good it makes you feel.
• No Stinkin’ Thinkin’. Watch where your thoughts are taking you. No, you do not deserve that drink or drug because it’s been a bad year. Your recovery is much too precious to go down that road. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones as soon as you detect them.
And don’t forget to take care of you. Carve out time for relaxation, meditation, and spiritual refreshment. L.A. CADA wishes you peace and love during this holiday season.