Addiction relapses soar during holidays
The holidays are a time to eat, drink, and be merry. But what if you're a recovering addict?
The season for cocktails, parties, and good times can be a tough one to navigate unscathed, warns Everyday Health.
"The holidays are a stressful time, and many people find that using a substance is a way of coping with stress," says Kate Rhine, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker and certified addiction counselor with Kaiser Permanente in Colorado.
Ramped up family time also can be emotional for many, especially those recovering from addiction, Rhine adds. For people without close family ties, loneliness may set in.
Use this go-to guide to stay clean:
1. Start each day with a plan to fend off a holiday addiction relapse. "An alcoholic needs to wake up each morning thinking about how to stay sober that day," says Peter R. Martin, MD, a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology and director of the Vanderbilt Addiction Center at the Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital in Nashville. "Once they have a plan, they are fine for the rest of that day." The key is staying focused on your goal of sobriety.
2. Evaluate each situation. Rank scenarios as low, medium, or high risk for you. In early recovery, spend more time in low-risk situations and avoid high-risk, Rhine says. If you're further into recovery and will be in a situation that is medium- or high-risk, such as a party with an open bar, rely on your plan. Plan to arrive early and duck out a bit early, she suggests. Drive yourself so that you can leave when you're ready.
3. Bring the party with you. Take along a food or safe drink that you enjoy. For instance, if champagne is a big temptation for you at a New Year's soiree, bring a flavored sparkling water to sip as the clock counts down.
4. Know your triggers. Every addict should know their triggers for relapse and how to manage them, Dr. Martin says. The most common triggers go with acronym HALT -- for when you feel hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. Take care of yourself, mentally and physically, to ward off these triggers.