The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

This year the holiday season will look slightly different than it ever has before. As we continue to navigate a world shaped by the current state of things, we continuously learn how to adapt and overcome adverse circumstances. For many of us, a second wave of COVID-related shutdowns has either already started or is looming in the very near future. Many of us had non-traditional Thanksgiving celebrations this year – trading in our accustomed family-packed event or our rambunctious Friendsgiving for something much more small and intimate. This holiday season will be similar. Whereas we might have attended a wide variety of Christmas parties and White Elephant gift exchanges last year, this year we will probably be staying in for the majority of the time – maybe visiting our immediate family members if we feel up to braving the airport.

As it stands, the holiday season can be quite a stressful time. Not only are we often returning home to visit with immediate and extended family (regardless of how dysfunctional they might be), but we often have to entertain, spend time (and money) choosing the perfect gifts and engage in many other holiday-related activities and events that might prove to be more chaotic than “cheery.” this holiday season, there will be an added element of stress as we continue navigating a post-COVID world. For those of us who are in addiction recovery, regardless of how much time we have under our belts, this specific time of year is often especially triggering, and we need to make sure that we have all of our relapse prevention techniques solidly in place. It is, of course, completely possible to stay sober during the holidays – it just isn’t always easy, and this year it might be particularly difficult. Fortunately, we have compiled a list of helpful tips and tricks that will allow you to stay sober and content over the holidays without ever compromising the quality of your recovery.

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Staying Sober During the Holidays

According to an article published by Everyday Health titled “How to Stay Sober Over the Holidays: 9 Tips From People in Recovery,” every holiday season is likely to bring a wide range of challenges along with it, whether an individual is new to recovery or whether he or she has 50 plus years of sobriety. Richard Soper, MD, JD, an addiction medicine specialist and chief medical officer of the Center for Behavioral Wellness in Nashville, Tennessee, weighs in on the subject throughout the article. “The holidays are periods of time where we consolidate our past, present, and future lives,” he says. This can lead to a return to our old, detrimental ways if we do not stay on top of our recovery programs and adequately address all potential relapse triggers the moment they arise.

According to an article published by BioSpace on the same subject, “pre-holiday [addiction treatment] re-admit rates (of past patients) usually hovers around 25% of admissions, but it jumped to over 60% after Thanksgiving, suggesting an increase of over 150%.” Some reasons that the article gives behind this jump and treatment admissions includes gift stress and financial strain, interpersonal conflicts and general “Holiday Blues.” If you are personally dreading this holiday season, take a look at the 8 tips we have gathered from a range of personal experiences as well as professional insight that are guaranteed to help you stay sober during what is widely known as “the most wonderful time of the year.”

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8 Tips for Staying Sober this Holiday Season

  1. Always prioritize and safeguard your sobriety, no matter what – The truth of the matter is, you might hurt a feeling or two along the way if you turn down a party invitation or spend a long weekend at home rather than a full two weeks. Remember that if your sobriety is not intact, you will not be able to show up at all – in any capacity. Do everything you can to safeguard your sobriety, no matter what that looks like.
  2. In order to avoid loneliness this holiday season (which can be a relapse trigger), find a volunteer opportunity or a recovery-related event that you know you will enjoy – While the holiday season is generally a time filled with social gatherings, ugly sweater parties and work events, this year will undeniably look a little bit different. In order to avoid complete social isolation, volunteer at a soup kitchen or work an Alcoholics Anonymous telethon. Do what you can to stay involved, so long as you feel comfortable doing so.
  3. If your family serves as a major relapse trigger – simply avoid them – If you are dreading returning home with every fiber of your being, there is no harm in utilizing the nationwide travel restrictions and other COVID-related guidelines to your advantage. Simply let your loved ones know that you are quarantining, and you will see them next year. No point in adding any additional stressors to your plate if you don’t absolutely need to.
  4. Make sure that you have at least five sober friends on speed dial – If you are returning home, or if you are putting yourself into any other situation that could be potentially triggering, let at least five of your sober friends know to expect a phone call at any point in time. simply talking through things with someone you know and trust can make all of the difference in the world.
  5. Prepare yourself for potentially frustrating conversations – Maybe you have a cousin that simply cannot wrap his or her head around the concept of sobriety. Maybe you have a nagging grandma who you know will ask you why you aren’t married and why you haven’t blessed her with any grandchildren. Rehearse these conversations ahead of time and prepare yourself in every way you can.
  6. Make sure that you have an exit strategy so that you can easily get away from any situation or event – If things get too overwhelming, be sure you have an exit strategy in place. Maybe you find a 12-step meeting that you can attend in your hometown if you need to get away for a little while. the most important thing is that if you feel you need to break away from your current situation – do it!
  7. Make a list of your personal relapse triggers ahead of time, and practice utilizing your relapse prevention tools – Preparation is essential. You know what you are getting yourself into, and only you know what you can do to make sure your sobriety stays intact if you do happen to face an uncomfortable situation or a stressful social event. Take the time to write out all of your personal relapse triggers and brainstorm ways in which you can effectively overcome them.
  8. Bring a sober friend with you to non-recovery events – If you are going to a holiday work party or a family dinner, ask if you can bring a plus one. Having a sober support on hand is never a bad idea.

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Knowing Your Personal Holiday Relapse Triggers

It is crucial that you are aware of who and what triggers you personally, and that you have a realistic plan of action in place should you start to feel shaky in your sobriety. Map things out thoroughly before you find yourself smack dab in the midst of them.

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At Immersion Recovery Center, we focus heavily on helping each and every one of our clients develop the relapse prevention skills he or she needs to maintain sobriety for years to come. If you are currently in a dictionary and you have been having a difficult time navigating this holiday season, we are available to help. If you or someone you love has been suffering at the hands of an active substance abuse disorder, there is no better time to seek professional help than over the holiday season. Sobriety is truly the best gift you can give yourself and your loved ones. At Immersion Recovery Center, we have developed an admissions process that is simple and straightforward. As soon as you give us a call, we will set to work developing a viable intake plan. Our Treatment Advisors conduct a brief, over-the-phone evaluation as well as a free, no obligation insurance benefit check, ensuring that our unique program of recovery is best-suited to your personalized needs, and that the services we offer are covered either partially or in full. Once the finer details are smoothed out, we help develop travel plans and set a date and a time for admission. For more information give us a call today at (888) 693-1604, we are available to help you 24/7.

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Serving as the Inpatient Clinical Director at Immersion Recovery Center, Susan will work directly with staff members, clients, and family members to ensure the clinical program remains as effective and individualized as possible. Susan is no stranger to the fields of behavioral health and addiction. She has over 25 years of experience, working in an inpatient setting, an outpatient setting, acute stabilization and nearly all other settings in the realm of addiction recovery.