Holidays Triggering Relapse


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The holidays are always so busy and the list of things to do seems to never end. But in addition to all of the tasks and commotion, the drifting off schedule, there is also the “be happy” rule. After all, no one wants a holiday grump around so you have to paint that happy smile and toss in an occasional ho ho. Whether you like it or not, things have to be perfect, or at least look like it to outsiders. 

These societal demands put an extreme amount of pressure on those in recovery. This is why the holidays are such a vulnerable time for relapse from alcoholism, eating disorders, and drug addiction. An article written in Christianity Today states that “Everyone is sensitive to these holiday challenges, but if you are inactive addiction or even addiction recovery, you may feel more sensitive towards them than most. In many cases, it was an inability to cope with these kinds of pressures which led to drug use (or other addictions) in the first place.”

Triggering Relapse

There are so many things that can trigger a relapse. People with eating disorders may have trouble with being around all of the food that seems to be the focal point for holiday celebrations. Celebrations almost always include alcohol, which is a problem for those trying to refrain from drinking and those drugs seem to just pop up everywhere.

Will just one drink hurt, I can control it, maybe just one cupcake, and I will use today but that is it, these are all words that seem to echo through the voice of those in recovery. The voices are almost chilling and they never seem to stay away for very long, especially around the holidays when the focus is finally off of you for a minute.

Looking Through Stained Glass

Sometimes those that are new to recovery can look at what is supposed to be a beautiful time of thanks and blessings and see something entirely different. They see painful memories, shattered relationships, and it fills them with anxiety. The holidays can be dreaded, intense, and emotional. It can also be a time of vulnerability and a loss of control, reverting back to a place of control and safety.

This is part of recovery and it was made known from the onset that it wasn’t always going to be an easy road to travel. It is a constant battle and an even tougher one as the holiday’s approach. But, it can be a time to rejoice, if desired. You can make it through the holidays without that drink that hit, that bite, that struggle.

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