For some, the holidays are a festive time for gathering with family, eating delicious foods, and gift-giving, but for others, it can be a struggle for survival. Regardless of how people spend their holidays, everyone can mostly agree that they are stressful in nature. While some handle the stress with benign activities such as relaxing or reading a book, others crumble under the pressure and fall into depression, a common reason for alcohol and drug abuse. For recovering addicts, the holidays are often difficult times that challenge the very integrity of their sobriety. With all of the pressures from the holidays, the included financial stress, holiday parties, and unpleasant weather, it can be quite a feat for recovering addicts to make it through without touching a drug or a drink.
Why Are the Holidays Especially Hard for Addicts?
There’s no denying that the holidays can spark a relapse for a recovering addict. Why is this? There are, in fact, many reasons why the holidays are relentless for people who struggle with addiction:
- Holiday parties place the emphasis on food and alcohol.
- Large gatherings of people make it hard for the focus to stay on one person. This makes it easier for addicts to abuse drugs or alcohol without being noticed.
- The colder months typically bring about unpleasant weather. Temperatures drop and precipitation increases, both easily correlate to depressed moods. This type of weather can spark sadness or even anger in individuals struggling with addiction. Sadness and anger often lead to relapse.
- Pending time with family increases stress. Oftentimes, it’s not being around family that drives people to make bad choices concerning alcohol and drugs, it’s the amount of time they spend with them. The holidays are a time when it’s normal for families to gather for hours on end. For those that aren’t family oriented, this can be extremely stressful.
- Spending the holidays alone is extremely depressing. For some, it’s not so easy to make it to a Thanksgiving or Christmas gathering because they unfortunately have no one to spend it with. This can easily drive a person to drink or do drugs in order to forget or ease the emotional pain of the loneliness.
Tips for Staying Sober During the Holidays
Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do if you feel as though you might have trouble saying no to drugs or alcohol this Christmas or New Year’s Eve:
- Just say no. It seems simple enough, but many people don’t realize it’s the ultimate key to abstaining from drug or alcohol relapse. Even if you have to turn down a holiday party invitation, so be it. Your sobriety is not worth being put in jeopardy over a single event.
- Stay in control of your drinks. Never let anyone make a drink for you at a holiday gathering or party. If drinks are offered, insist on making your own to ensure that it contains no alcohol.
- Bring a friend. Don’t crack under pressure just because you’re alone. If you’re afraid you might make a bad decision at a holiday event, bring a friend along who fully supports your decision to remain sober. This will help curb some of the anxiety, and it will be easier to firmly decline alcohol or drugs.
What to Do if You’re at a Breaking Point
Sometimes, even some of the most seasoned recovered addicts have their moments of weakness. After all, drug addiction is a disease, and it’s one you will struggle with likely for the rest of your life. That doesn’t mean you have to succumb to it or allow it to control your life.
If you, or someone you know, are struggling with the pressures of the holidays, there has never been a better time to seek inpatient treatment. Inpatient treatment is a specialized form of rehabilitation that focuses heavily on helping the patient identify what’s causing the addictive behaviors and moving past them. Many people choose inpatient treatment because it offers protection and isolation from the outside world. Patients essentially discard their dysfunction for a chance at a new life with thorough, heavily focused treatment. Inpatient treatment is also a great source of support. Because the patient resides at the treatment center during the rehabilitation process, there are always professionals ready to support any issues or troubles that arise.
Lastly, inpatient treatment is one of the most in-depth types of treatment for addiction available. With so many layers of treatment, classes, and learning experiences, there’s no wonder it’s one of the most successful treatment options available for addicts at their breaking point. If you or someone you love are struggling with addiction, make the choice to seek treatment today. Don’t let the holidays break your stride; catch the relapse before it happens and seek treatment immediately. You owe it to yourself.