As the holidays are approaching, it’s supposed to be a time of celebration and quality time with family. Because most of us live among busy schedules, we look forward to just taking it easy, relaxing, and starting fresh after the new year. For many of us, this means taking a break from sports, school activities, and even therapy.
But let me caution you. If you are in recovery from any mind-altering substance (alcohol, drugs, etc), this is the time of year when you should be MOST on guard.
If you have a family member who is in recovery, we want you to be informed about the possibilities of relapse through this holiday season between Thanksgiving and the New Year. While this is a time for celebration with our families, this is also a time of high stress and triggers from the past. These are 5 Tips that can help you prevent relapse for yourself or a loved one:
- Make going to your recovery meetings a priority. This time of the year, it is easy to put them down on your priority list. Do not make excuses, make your meeting! If you haven’t been to one in a long time, find a local AA group, Celebrate Recovery group, or have a mental health checkup with a marriage & family therapist or a mental health counselor.
- Do not isolate during the holiday season. Spend time with healthy
family, local church groups, or other people in recovery. There are plenty of safe places to go and spend the holidays in order to be around people that truly want to see you succeed.
- Take the time to do a daily inventory. Look for warning signs, and/or any related problems at the beginning and the end of your day. Listen to your body. Ailments, headaches & body aches are trying to tell you something – and it’s not that you’re getting sick.
- Take the time to volunteer. Serving others is a great way to extinguish those old self-centered behaviors. It truly does make you feel better to give your time for a worthy cause, or to help another person. There are many agencies & churches who are looking for people to help disadvantaged children & low-income families. Even if this describes yourself, you will be amazed at how you don’t even think of using or abusing when you are serving another person.
- Make sure that you are in contact with your accountability team and/or sponsor. Having people on your team is very important to your success in recovery. When you have a sponsor and a team, you are NEVER alone! They are committed to you and your joy. Don’t let relapse steal it away.
The goal of relapse prevention is to teach people in recovery and their families how to anticipate and cope with the potential relapse before it actually occurs. As we know, there will be great temptations during the holiday season to pick back up old habits (for old time’s sake, because you are “safe with good ‘ol dad”), so it is important for us to be prepared. Here are a few tools, that will help you to stay on guard through the holiday season. Remember, relapse does not have to be apart of your recovery.
*This was written by Everette Coffman, MS Intern, who is on the Leadership Team at Celebrate Recovery. He is also a Marriage & Family Therapist intern, working with Family Life Counseling Center. He specializes in addictions and sports psychology, among other mental health issues.*