As we enter into another holiday season, it’s worth acknowledging the unique and specific challenges those in recovery face this time of year. Whether a person is brand-new to the process or they have years of sobriety under their belt, the holidays, while celebratory and joyous for some, can be difficult, overwhelming and downright traumatic for others. If you are in recovery or have a loved one in recovery, it’s important to be mindful of the heightened possibility of relapse during the holidays and take extra-special care of yourself or your loved one. This time of year can be stressful for anyone, and has some of the highest rates of relapse.
There are many factors that can lead to relapse during the holidays. For starters, there’s the ever-pervasive financial pressure of buying gifts. Many who are new to recovery have not yet straightened out their finances and may find themselves scrambling to pay for gifts. Another source of difficulty is interacting with extended family and loved ones. One of the most difficult parts about the recovery process is successfully reintegrating back into your family dynamic. Some have trouble relating to their loved ones on the same level as they did prior to their drug or alcohol abuse, even though they have their support system in place.
Another common cause of relapse during the holidays is the pervasive presence of alcohol. Even though it’s being enjoyed in a celebratory context, many recovering alcoholics find it hard to be around beer, wine, champagne or hard liquor even years after their treatment. Those in recovery who find themselves a little more vulnerable to relapse this year can prevent a slip-up by doing relatively simple things, like increasing their attendance at meetings and keeping their sponsor or therapists’ contact information close at hand during celebrations.
For many, it may be necessary to take a good, honest look at their readiness level and make the tough decision to cut down on celebrating this year.