How To Avoid Relapse During the Holidays

A holly jolly holiday is still possible… even while you’re recovering from an addiction. Practical tips for how to keep it sober! More here.

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ARTICLE OVERVIEW: You can stay sober this season with the help of these tips and tricks. Here are some great ways to stay sober and enjoy the holidays.



There is great news for recovering addicts: A holly jolly holiday is still possible, even while you’re recovering from an addiction. Although you may experience some triggers such as being alone during the holidays, dealing with tenuous relationships, and fending off constant offers of alcoholic drinks, you can stay sober this season with the help of these tips and tricks.

Here are some great ways to stay sober and enjoy the holidays.

1. Make A Plan Before Starting The Day.

As sure as wreaths and lights will be hung this season, a recovering addict needs to wake up each day with a plan to remain sober. Before even stepping foot out of bed, you should evaluate the situations you are likely to encounter and then rank them in order of risk. Of course, the goal this season should be to avoid high risk scenarios as much as possible. But some situations are simply unavoidable.

For example, maybe you need to attend a holiday work party to impress your boss and eventually receive a promotion. While at the party, you may be tempted to consume an alcoholic beverage with your co-workers. If you must attend a high-risk event, make sure that you drive yourself so that you can leave whenever you want. There’s nothing worse than being forced to stay in a situation where people are partaking in drugs and alcohol for an extended period of time.

Eat a healthy snack or meal at least once every three hours.

2. Maintain A Healthy Diet

All of the delicious holiday food may be tempting, but now is not the time to push your healthy habits to the side. When you eat an unimaginable amount of unhealthy foods, your body will not be feeling the greatest. To feel better, you may want to drink or use. Even though those sugar cookies and specialty pies may be hard to resist, the best way to avoid this pitfall is by maintaining a balanced diet…as much as possible.

While you shouldn’t eat too much this holiday season, you should also make sure that you are eating enough. If you don’t get enough food in your system, you are prone to low blood sugar levels. A low blood sugar can make you feel irritable and anxious, and you might want to turn to alcohol or drugs to reduce these unpleasant symptoms.

The best way to ensure that your blood sugar never gets too low is to eat a healthy snack or meal at least every three hours. Make sure that you take extra precautions if you are a recovering addict and a diabetic.

Meditation takes just a few minutes per day.

3. Practice Stress-Relieving Activities

There is no doubt that the holiday season is one of the most stressful times of the year, but you don’t have to let the stress get to you. Instead of coping with alcohol or illegal substances, engage in some self-soothing strategies like meditation and breathing exercises to clear your mind.

The great thing about meditation is that anyone can practice this activity. Even if you meditate and breathe deeply for a few minutes each day, you will be able to restore calm and peace in your life. As you practice meditation and deep breathing, make sure that you keep reminding yourself that you cannot stop at just one drink so that you can stay on the path to sobriety.

Another way to reduce stress is to engage in a regular exercise routine. Due to the well-known fact that exercise stimulates the production of feel good neurotransmitters called endorphins, you’ll start feeling better in no time. Not only can a regular work-out routine reduce stress, the activity can also improve sleep, combat depression, reduce anxiety, and boost self-confidence. As you experience all of these great effects of exercise, you’ll be well on you way to having a great and sober holiday season.

Practice your refusal lines.

4. Bring Support To Holiday Parties

The holidays wouldn’t be as much fun without parties and get-togethers. If you plan to attend a holiday event, just make sure that you don’t show up alone. A friend who does not drink alcohol or use substances can definitely help you stay on track at social functions. While everyone is enjoying drinks at the bar, your loyal friend can make you feel comfortable by keeping you engaged in conversation and drinking sparkling fruit juice with you. When both of you guys are drinking non-alcoholic beverages, you are less likely to feel tempted to consume something a little stronger.

If someone does offer you a drink at a gathering, you need to know exactly what to say to avoid being persuaded to join the fun. Instead of fumbling over your words when offered a drink, know the type of non-alcoholic beverage you would like before you attend the social function. That way you can quickly and politely decline alcoholic drinks without being forced to expand upon your decision.

Along with bringing support to the party, you can also take your own beverages to fend off those offers of alcoholic drinks. Many New Year’s parties only serve alcoholic drinks, so you’ll want to consider this option if you plan to attend one. Whether it’s sparkling water, hot chocolate, or red bull, consider bringing a beverage for the host and one for yourself.

5. Stay Connected To Positive People

Speaking of support from friends, you should also seek accountability from your buddies in your support group. Throughout the holiday season, consider attending some extra meetings to stay connected to positive people. In order to remain sober this time of the year, the goal should be to stay close to supportive friends and family.

Staying Sober Starts With A Decision

As you embrace the holiday season, make sure that you remember the reasons why you are on a recovery journey. If you keep these good thoughts in mind during this time of year, staying sober is much easier even when temptation seems to be everywhere. Although there are a lot of people seemingly having fun with drugs and alcohol this holiday season, you don’t have to be a part of the statistic.

And now we’d like to hear from you.

Please leave your comments or questions in the section at the end. We try to respond to all real life questions with a personal reply.

About the author
Dr. Nalin is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist (PSY17766), a Certified Chemical Dependency Intervention Specialist and a Certified Youth Residential Treatment Administrator. Dr. Nalin is the Founder and Clinical Director of Paradigm Malibu and Paradigm San Francisco Adolescent Treatment Centers. He has been responsible for the direct care of young people at multiple institutions of learning including; The Los Angeles Unified School District, the University of California at San Diego, Santa Monica College, and Pacific University. He was instrumental in the development of the treatment component of Los Angeles County’s first Juvenile Drug Court, which now serves as a national model.
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