The holidays are fabulous, but they are also filled with time crunches, financial pressures, travel frustrations and interpersonal stresses. Everyone is sensitive to these holiday challenges, but if you are in active addiction or even addiction recovery, you may feel more sensitive towards them than most. In many cases, it was an inability to cope with these kinds of pressures which led to drug use in the first place. When we are under stress, all of us are tempted to fall back into old habits. For the person in recovery, just being aware of the potential for relapse during the holidays is half the battle.
If you have an addiction history you likely have many visual and environmental cues which could pose a threat to recovery. If, during the holidays, you will be facing an abusive or critical relative, if you will be spending time in a room where you once used drugs or if you will be in proximity to someone with whom you once used drugs, all of these situations could trigger a renewed desire for using drugs or alcohol.
Just because there will be challenges doesn’t mean that you should avoid family or holiday gatherings. Psychology Today reviews ways you can help keep control of your recovery. Role playing possible conversations, questions or situations which are likely to come up is one way to stay in charge. Practicing your responses alone in advance may feel awkward at first, but it is far better to work through your awkwardness beforehand than to wait until you are confronted with the flesh and blood reality.
In addition to practicing how you will answer people and circumstances, you might want to consider enlisting the help of another person. It could be a friend who is supportive of your sobriety or it may be a sympathetic relative who agrees to stand beside you and keep an eye out for you – the key is to have another person on hand who understands what you are dealing with and who is focused on helping you navigate successfully through the event. Thinking through your battles before you face them allows you to prepare healthy and successful responses.