Addiction Recovery and the Holidays

Addiction Recovery and the Holidays

There is no doubt that the holidays present recovering addicts and their families with a number of challenges. The holiday season can be full of stress and everyone could use a little extra support during this time. Those in active recovery are faced with challenges when it comes to temptation and the possibility of relapse.

Seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, is a condition that should be known when it comes to the holiday season. SAD is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. It is commonly associated with the winter months due to the often gloomy weather which has the tendency to provoke feelings of depression and loneliness. Seasonal affective disorder is a condition that can affect everyone, not just those in active recovery.

Individuals suffering from SAD may experience the following symptoms:

  • Feelings of despair or hopelessness
  • Social isolation
  • Increased irritability or anxiety
  • Sleep disturbances

Seasonal affective disorder is commonly misdiagnosed or will go unseen because it is difficult to detect. Depression is often self-medicated by the use of drugs or alcohol and can lead to addiction.

The holiday season has another looming danger for individuals in addiction recovery - relapse. Recovery requires constant work toward maintaining a life of sobriety. The heightened stress of commitments during the winter months can cause a number of triggers to come up and threaten relapse.

How does one cope with addiction during the holiday season?

  • Take care of yourself. Get plenty of sleep, eat healthy, and take a break when things get too stressful. Of course it is the holidays, so an occasional holiday treat here or there is fine, but overall try to eat healthy to keep your mind and body sharp. The more you are focused on taking care of yourself and your body, the more alert you will be to stand up to the challenges of the holidays and possible relapse.
  • Don’t be afraid to say ‘no.’ You may have to turn down a holiday party invitation here or there because you know it will be an environment filled with temptation. Consider all of the hard work you have put into your recovery. There is no sense in compromising your hard work just to attend a party.
  • When attending a holiday event, consider bringing along a friend who you know will be supportive of your recovery. This person could be someone who is also in recovery or just a person who fully understands the situation and can provide some additional support.
  • Call your sponsor if you feel the pressure building. There is never a bad time to call your sponsor for support. Having someone to talk to who can truly relate to what you are going through can help to keep you on track when you may be feeling as though you’re wavering.

We hope that these tips will help you to keep recovery as your top priority this holiday season. With the right tools and support, the holiday season doesn’t have to be a time of year that you dread. By surrounding yourself with knowledge and supportive individuals you are giving yourself the things necessary to maintain your sobriety, even during the challenging times.  

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