If there’s one thing that can push a person to heavy drinking, it’s dealing with relatives at holiday family gatherings. The stress, the passive aggressive angst, and Uncle Benny’s political rants are enough to make anyone start knocking back the sauce. But seriously, all joking aside, there are plenty of stressors and agitators that will knock on your resolve throughout the holiday season as we get together with family members and colleagues in celebratory situations. It’s a wonderful, warm time for togetherness and celebration, but also a minefield of potential triggers for drug and alcohol relapse. It’s important to be ready for this challenge so as to prepare a defense ahead of time and keep a close eye on your sobriety.
Identify Triggers Ahead of Time
When going into any social situation that has the potential to trigger your addiction cravings, it’s imperative that you not be caught by surprise. Always play out the potential scenarios in your head before attending any holiday or family function. Know who will be there, what kind of drinking or drug use may be present, and how you’ll handle these pressures when they arise. A pre-game plan will help to keep you on your toes so as not to be caught off-guard and bulldozed by overwhelming triggers.
Take and Ally with You
Families are a mix-mash of different personalities. We love them all but we don’t always mesh well with blood relatives. There may be people present who are supportive and understanding of your recovery, but there will very likely be others there who are not so sensitive to the situation. The best defence if you’re heading into a stressful, loaded situation is to take a sobriety ally with you. This can be a spouse or significant other, a friend, or even a recovery coach. The idea is that at least one person will be by your side for the duration of the event to help you maintain your cool, ward off temptations to use, and warn you when it’s time to step outside for a break and fresh air.
Have an Exit Strategy
Knowing that there may be temptations and pressures that will build up and be too much to handle, always have a plan for how you might exit the event if things get to be too much. There’s no winning by staying in the pressure cooker and risking the possibility of giving in and jeopardizing your sobriety. This means having a ride lined up to leave at a moment’s notice, as well as a potential excuse for mom and grandma if needed.
The Holidays Should be Joyful
The goal of any holiday or family gathering is to share good times and love with those who are closest to you. No one wants an addiction or recovery situation to overshadow these festivities but when you’re recovering, that’s your #1 concern. Try to relax, enjoy the event for what it is, and have patience for those loved ones who surround you.
If you need advice or guidance on how to handle social situations and addiction relapse triggers, the recovery counselors at Hired Power can steer you in the right direction. Just call us at 800-910-9299.