Manage Relapse While in Recovery

Relapse and the New Year: How to Deal

Legacy Healing Center Blog

Learn how to manage relapse while in recovery with these tips from Legacy Healing Center.

The holidays are among us and while this season can be exciting and joyous, it is crucial for anyone in recovery to be extra protective of his or her sobriety during this time. So how does one manage relapse while in recovery when they are in a whirlwind of holiday parties, emotional family gatherings, or perhaps feeling lonely during this time of year? Navigating the season with your sobriety in mind and implementing safeguards can help you maintain your recovery despite holiday triggers and temptations.

If you or someone you love needs help with addiction, call 888-608-9351 today to speak with a treatment specialist.

It’s no secret that the holidays are stressful, so it is crucial that you have a way to manage any extra stress you feel during this time of year. While you may have turned to drugs or alcohol in the past as a coping mechanism, there are many substance-free options that can help you properly manage any stress you feel (and help maintain your sobriety). This could be exercise, meditation, extra appointments with your sponsor or therapist, and attending an additional support group or 12-step meetings. Proper stress management is just one way to help prevent relapse in the New Year. Here are a few additional options to manage relapse while in recovery:

  1. Consider Each Holiday Situation – Are you receiving invites for work holiday parties that will have alcohol present? Is your family dynamic strained and are you concerned about attending a holiday family gathering where tensions and emotions may run high? Assign every invitation or holiday scenario as low, medium or high risk. Avoiding those that are high-risk and have the potential to jeopardize your sobriety is a smart choice whether you are new in the recovery process or have been sober for some time. Low-risk choices are ideal for anyone recently out of rehab.
    Regardless of what decision you make as far as holiday events and activities, always have a plan beforehand if triggers or temptations present themselves, and consider driving yourself or having access to an Uber or Lyft if you need to leave immediately.
  2. Prepare Responses Before the Event – Perhaps some of your family members aren’t aware you are in recovery, or coworkers do not know you attended rehab in the past. In these types of situations, it is vital to prepare responses in advance of why you are not interested in an alcoholic beverage if it is offered to you.
  3. Bring a Buddy – Many people in recovery find it helpful to bring a sober buddy to holiday functions – someone who will help them steer clear of any drugs, alcohol, etc. If a trigger or temptation occurs at the event, have a plan in place with your buddy to help distract you or to remove yourself from the situation altogether.
  4. Have Safe Options Available – Holiday stress and high emotions are top triggers for relapse during this time of year. One way to decrease stress levels is to feel more comfortable by knowing safe options will be available to you during a party or event. Consider bringing your favorite non-alcoholic beverages or foods for you to enjoy; you can still “eat, drink and be merry” during the holidays without having to partake in alcoholic beverages or other substances.
  5. Keep Triggers and Cravings in Check – One of the best ways to manage relapse while in recovery is to be cognizant of triggers and have a plan to limit them as much as possible. Some of the most common triggers are feeling hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. In addition to being aware of triggers, you also need to have a plan in place where cravings are concerned. In most cases, cravings last an average of twenty minutes. If a craving occurs during a holiday event, excuse yourself from the environment, try deep breathing, meditating, or praying until it passes.

While these tips can help you manage relapse while in recovery, it is important to understand that relapses do happen as addiction is a chronic disease. If you do have a slip during the holiday season, don’t beat yourself up and isolate yourself. Speak to your sponsor or counselor right away and get help. You can still begin the New Year strong by getting back on track.

For more tips on how to manage relapse while in recovery or how to move forward should a relapse occur, visit the Legacy Healing Center blog or reach out to an addiction specialist by calling 888-608-9351.