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The Holidays Can Be Triggering. Here’s How You Can Overcome a Relapse in Recovery

The holidays often come with stress — the stress of travel, family, finances, and endless festivities. When you’re in recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction, this stress can be triggering and lead you to relapse. 

While you never plan to relapse, it can happen despite your best intentions. In fact, up to 60% of people relapse at some point after achieving sobriety. 

At Pain and Recovery Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, our substance abuse specialists know that relapse happens and we’re here to help you get through the holidays. Our comprehensive addiction programs focus on relapse prevention to provide the support you need to help you fully recover from your addiction.

Know Your Holiday Triggers 

You know the holidays are coming, so it’s a good idea to refamiliarize yourself with your triggers so you can avoid them as much as possible. 

Common holiday triggers include:

Holiday gatherings may look different this year because of COVID-19, and the stress of navigating a pandemic during an already stressful holiday season may be another trigger you should be aware of.

Though you may not be able to avoid every situation or person that triggers you during the holidays, you can shore up the skills you learned in recovery when you encounter them. 

Keep Your Sobriety Top of Mind

Whether your triggers are certain family members, the stress that comes with travelling, or the endless alcohol available at holiday festivities, it’s a good idea to have a plan in place. Part of avoiding a relapse during the holidays is making a plan to prioritize your sobriety. 

If you’re working with a therapist, take time to discuss a plan and how you will handle situations that may test your sobriety. For example, if you know you’ll end up at holiday parties that aren’t sober gatherings, bring your own non-alcoholic drinks or make a point to arrive early and leave early before there’s any temptation to use. 

If the holidays trigger feelings of depression, anxiety, grief, or loneliness, make sure you have available any needed medication and friends or family who you can lean on when big feelings arise. 

It can also be helpful to have healthy activities you can do whenever you’re feeling triggered. Go for a run, watch a funny movie, do some meditation, or call your sponsor.

Overcoming a Holiday Relapse 

Sometimes, despite your best-laid plans, relapse can occur. If you do relapse, you may have feelings of guilt or shame — but don’t keep a relapse to yourself. Reach out and get the treatment you need.

We’re here to help you get back to sobriety. We can help you detox to minimize the uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal.

Our mental health professionals offer individual and group therapy, as well as an intensive outpatient program, to help you address your holiday triggers and help you learn healthier ways to cope the next time those situations arise.

We’re here to help you make a plan to maintain your sobriety during the holidays, and to support you if you do relapse. Contact us by phone or online today to get your relapse prevention plan in place so you can enjoy the holidays without risking your sobriety. 

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