Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time for moving a little slower, being more present with family, friends (and even strangers), attending a plethora of gatherings, expressing your utmost gratitude, and – of course – raising a glass to the many blessings of life.
For a recovering addict, however, these moments and feelings of tradition can create a heightened level of stress and allow temptation to flood their mind.
Staying Sober During the Holidays: Why Holiday Relapse Prevention is Imperative
You’ve battled this addiction right alongside your loved one, and you know what a long, arduous journey it has been. Days are much lighter since your loved one achieved sustained sobriety, but the hard work is never done – as addiction triggers still linger in blind spots and have the potential to dangerously stir the pot of addiction again.
For most recovering addicts who are currently sober, relapse can be a new source of anxiety. While they are working purposefully to ensure relapse remains out of arms reach, they know the risk of relapse is always present. Because of this, you know how crucial staying sober during the holidays is for your loved one – and your entire family.
During the feasts and celebrations, especially, where crowds, conversations, and the presence of alcohol can prove to be overwhelming for a recovering addict, a loved one’s holiday relapse prevention efforts can often be their saving grace and the reason they are able to enjoy Thanksgiving and remain sober.
A safe and memorable Thanksgiving is more than possible when you plan and prepare a stress-free holiday for recovering addicts.
While nothing can completely prevent relapse – you can take important, effective steps to help keep your loved one accountable. Here are four holiday relapse prevention tips you can enact:
Four Holiday Relapse Prevention Tips
1. Discuss or Practice Stress Reduction Techniques Beforehand with Your Loved One
One of the most effective and proactive steps you can take to ensure a stress-free holiday for the recovering addict in your life is to have them understand how to reduce stress before it enters the atmosphere.
Stress reduction techniques can minimize or cast away excessive emotions – such as anxiety, impulsiveness, restlessness, irritability, and so on – and help to neutralize toxic situations and process all feelings of stress.
Some simple and effective stress reduction techniques include, but are not limited to:
- Breathing Exercises
While sitting or lying flat in a comfortable position, your loved one should focus on taking deep, controlled breaths to flood the body and mind with oxygen, calm down and focus on reducing stress levels. This is not intended to be a long exercise, as it can be effective after just 5 to 10 deep breaths. But they can stay in this exercise for as long as needed.
- Prioritizing Physical Activity
Before a holiday event or between gettogethers, it’s a great idea to go for a run or walk to get the blood pumping and mind centered. Even if stress started to creep in during a holiday gathering, it’s exceeding advantageous to step outside and take a walk around the block to keep the mind right.
More involved than deep breathing exercises, a quick meditation session is where your loved one removes themselves from an overwhelming or stressful situation to find a quiet place to be still and silence their mind for 2 to 3 minutes (or however long is needed). With closed eyes and deep breaths, the goal is to purposefully drop all thoughts, clear the mind, and return to the event with a calm, clean slate. This exercise is very beneficial if the temptation to drink becomes excessive.
2. Keep Good, Supportive Company
With your loved one’s new commitment to sobriety, it may be time to reassess how you celebrate Thanksgiving.
If you host Thanksgiving, staying sober during the holidays for your loved one can be advanced if you ensure you’re only inviting people who fully support your loved one’s sobriety.
When the most understanding and encouraging people are in attendance, everyone can help keep your loved one accountable and only act in ways that will support a stress-free day – including not drinking or allowing alcohol to be present.
3. Sidestep Negative Influences and Unhealthy Interactions
If you travel to a friend or family’s home to celebrate Thanksgiving, you know that there is the possibility of seeing people who don’t act in ways that support your loved one’s sobriety and – often times – can be negative influences on your loved one.
If it’s not possible to avoid toxic individuals or social gatherings, try to talk to these individuals ahead of time and ask that they are mindful of your loved one’s new commitment.
Remind your loved one that they can say no to a negative influence and they can opt to not engage deeply with someone who brings them stress. Discuss how they can politely decline a drink and respectfully decline talking about certain topics.
4. Read the Room
Being your loved one’s biggest advocate can prove to be an invaluable asset with their continued sobriety during Thanksgiving. Monitoring the stress level of your loved one’s environments can help to avoid unnecessary stressful situations and hard-to-reverse temptations to drink or do drugs.
When you take the time to read the room, no matter where you’re at, you benefit from the ability to leave stressful scenarios before they become overwhelming and drive your loved one to crave something that will artificially control their emotions.
Holistic Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Ranch Creek Recovery
The most important skills your loved one learned in addiction treatment is relapse prevention techniques. Now, in sobriety, continued relapse prevention education and practice is vital to truly sustain this new, clean way of life.
With the holidays upon us, from all of us at Ranch Creek Recovery, we wish you a safe and truly wonderful holiday season.
Always remind your loved one of how strong they are and how far they’ve come.
Should your loved one find them self in a situation where their substance of choice crept back into their life, they need to get back on track as soon as possible – and we’re here for them.
At Ranch Creek Recovery, we address addiction recovery and relapse prevention head on through our non-12-step, individualized, holistic addiction treatment programs.
Our team of treatment experts will work one-on-one with your loved one to create a custom treatment
and recovery plan that will help them feel confident and ready to re-enter their sober life.
Have questions? We’re here to help. Contact us today.