woman sitting by tree considers avoiding relapse during the holidays
By BrightView
Author Mikaela Taylor, LMHC
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Mikaela Taylor, LMHC

Mikaela Taylor is a licensed clinical mental health counselor and is the State Behavioral Health Director. Mikaela has grown with BrightView and... read more

Published: November 9, 2022
Updated: November 29, 2022

The holidays are often marketed as the best time of the year. However, the holidays can also be a challenge for many people, especially those diagnosed with a substance use disorder. Some of those in recovery find that it is especially difficult to avoid relapse during the holidays. Triggers tend to be abundant this time of year, so you will likely need to pull out all the tools and resources you learned in treatment. Relapse prevention is one of the main focuses of ongoing addiction treatment during the holidays, so you can spend the season with those you love the most without interfering with your recovery.

At BrightView, we know that knowing the warning signs of a relapse and having a plan in place can help you or a loved one maintain sobriety and manage risks. With the help of ongoing addiction treatment from one of our outpatient programs, you will feel better prepared to manage or eliminate triggers that arise during the holidays. If you are not sure where to start, reach out to us at 888.501.9865 for help preventing holiday addiction relapse.

Why Is Holiday Addiction Relapse So Common?

Relapse during the holidays can happen for many reasons. Most men and women do not set out to use drugs or drink during the holidays, and they most likely work hard to avoid substances. Yet, some factors may make abstinence harder during this time of year, such as:

  • Exposure to more drug and alcohol use
  • Being around people who may use themselves
  • Feeling pressure to drink because everyone else is
  • Feeling obligated to engage in traditions
  • Feelings of trauma and stress brought up by the holidays or people you see during this time

Awareness of the triggers that may be more prominent during the holidays can empower you to plan and prepare more effectively. A relapse prevention plan will be your strongest ally for maintaining sobriety throughout the holiday season and beyond.

Preventing Addiction Relapse During the Holidays

Whatever is putting you at risk of addiction relapse, realize there is help available to you. You can avoid relapse during the holidays by focusing on a few key things.

Work to Reduce Holiday Addiction Relapse Triggers

Everyone in recovery has triggers, which are people, places, experiences, or feelings, that put them at a higher risk of using. During drug and alcohol use disorder treatment, you will learn more about these and how they impact you, and you will also develop strategies for managing them. Work on those strategies, such as knowing when to reach out to mentors when you feel at risk.

Accept That the Holidays May Mean Saying No

Sometimes, you have to say no to experiences that put you at risk. You may feel guilty about it, especially when someone will be disappointed that you do not attend. Yet, it may be necessary to reduce your risks of returning to use. Those who care about you do not want you to put yourself at risk. Find a new way to celebrate with them this year, and make it as special as you can.

Reach Out for Support to Prevent Addiction Relapse

Relapse during the holidays often happens when a person does not take action as soon as they can to avoid using. The sooner you recognize that you are at risk, the better your chances are of stopping it from happening. Some of the programs that can help you include:

  • Outpatient treatment programs – Living at home while receiving individualized care can give you the resources needed to stay sober.
  • Medication assisted treatment program – Medications such as Suboxone, methadone, and Vivitrol can address cravings while providing a safe way to stay sober.
  • Counseling and therapy for addiction – Individual and group therapy can help you manage triggers, build a solid recovery plan, and find healthy coping mechanisms.
  • Peer recovery supporters – Joining a support group with people who have similar experiences can help you stay positive and accountable.

If you need help preventing holiday addiction relapse, reaching out to a treatment center can make a difference.

Celebrate Your Efforts to Avoid Addiction Relapse

Another important way to reduce risk during the holidays is simply to focus on what you have accomplished. Look at how much you have gone through, how many therapy sessions you have had, and how many changes you have made to heal. When you focus on all you have done and tell others about it, that can help you stay on the right path. This is always a good time to reach out to help others, too. Visit your treatment center or other local recovery programs to find out if you can help out by mentoring someone.

Reach Out to BrightView for Ongoing Addiction Treatment During the Holidays

When it comes to the holidays, you can enjoy them and still get the help you need for your substance use disorder. Our team at BrightView is dedicated to working with you through the process. Learn more about relapse during the holidays and the tools we can offer when you call 888.501.9865.