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staying sober during the holidays

8 Tips for Staying Sober During the Holidays

8 Tips for Staying Sober During the Holidays

Although the holidays can be a fun time, recovering from substance abuse can put a damper on the festivities. It’s common for people to throw parties and serve alcohol or to have family gatherings that cause a great deal of stress. Staying on your path of addiction recovery at this time of year can be a real challenge as you navigate these situations. To get through this season successfully without relapsing, here are eight tips for staying sober during the holidays.

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  1. Surround Yourself with People Who Support Your Recovery

Support is crucial to a person in recovery at any time of the year. However, the holidays can be extra challenging. Surrounding yourself with family and friends who love you and who are wiling to help you remain sober will make things easier. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask your close family and friends to help keep you accountable to your recovery. Most importantly, do not isolate yourself. This may only cause depression or relapse.

  1. Choose Holiday Parties Wisely

There are always a number of holiday parties you can attend during the holiday season, most of which will offer substances that you have worked hard at removing from your life. Even though you have started recovery from addiction, you do not have to decline all of the offers that you are given. However, it is smart to choose the ones where alcohol will not be the center of attention.

Avoiding gatherings that provide the greatest temptations will make things easier for you. Realizing that a few hours of partying are not worth ruining your sobriety is vital. Make sure to arrive with a plan so that you can leave when the urge to drink becomes too strong. You should come with a trusted friend who will agree not to drink as well. Make plans ahead of time not to rely on others for transportation. This will keep you from getting into uncomfortable situations.

  1. Keep Attending Meetings and Staying Sober During the Holidays

Although the holiday season is busy, it is not the time for you to take a vacation from your recovery process. Besides surrounding yourself with family and friends, it is important to keep attending regular sobriety meetings. Even if you are away from home for the holidays, it is possible to find and attend a local meeting in the area. Support groups contain people who are going through the same challenges. You can work together and help each other get through the holidays without relapsing.

  1. Give Back

Your recovery is like a rebirth. A way to make the most of this gift is to give back. Helping others during the holiday season is an effective way to remain sober as well. Your community is probably looking for volunteers to help serve a meal to the hungry or to decorate various parts of your town. These activities will give you purpose and will make you feel good about helping others. Lending a hand to other individuals is a way to show thanks for the people who have helped you along your sober journey.

  1. Be Honest with Yourself

Many recovering individuals are too confident in their abilities to remain sober at all times. However, even the strongest person can succumb to temptation. Do not think that it is possible to avoid relapsing when you are placing yourself in situations where alcohol is flowing. If you are at a party or event where most people are getting buzzed, you will likely fall victim to relapse. Although it is important to socialize during the holidays, it is vital not to make a habit of visiting bars or similar venues at this time of year. Being honest with yourself about your struggle with addiction is one of the best ways to fight against yourself.

  1. Exercise Regularly

Exercise is known to release endorphins in the brain. These endorphins make people feel happy and satisfied. This is why a person in recovery should establish a regular workout routine, especially during the holidays. Also, exercise can help you to clear your mind and to escape the chaos that the holidays may bring. Simply taking a walk to enjoy some Christmas lights can improve your mood and keep you away from triggers that can harm your recovery.

  1. Create New Traditions

If drugs or alcohol have haunted you for a long time and have prevented you from enjoying quality time with friends and family during the holidays, it may be nice to create new traditions. Now that you have decided to live a sober life, you will be able to spend memorable times with your loved ones. Host an alcohol-free decorating party or cookie exchange, plan a family game night, or go sleigh riding after you trim your tree. All of these activities can become a yearly tradition. They create positive feelings for everyone who is involved.

  1. Take One Day at a Time

Sometimes, people think too far into the future. As a recovering individual, it is essential to take one day at a time. Do not worry about the past or what is yet to happen. Live for the moment so that you enjoy a wonderful holiday season. Celebrate with family and friends without negative thoughts of relapse.

For more helpful tips to remain sober this holiday season, or to start your recovery journey, contact Desert Cove Recovery today.

routine in addiction recovery

Routine in Addiction Recovery

New Routine in Addiction Recovery

If you’re reading this, you’ve committed to staying sober. By going through drug rehab, you’ve already come a long way. Establishing a routine as quickly as possible will increase your chances of long-term success.

However, there’s a delicate balance between sticking to a schedule and obsessing over it. If you fail to plan, you open the door to relapse. If you’re rigid and inflexible, you open the door to other addictive behaviors.

Keep reading for tips on creating a routine that strikes the perfect balance.

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The Importance of Routine in Addiction Recovery

Kicking a habit once and for all is difficult if you don’t have anything to replace it with. Having idle time on your hands, time that you once filled by drinking or using drugs, can get you into trouble.

The solution is to make sure that your days and nights are reasonably full. Staying clean is easier once you get into a consistent rhythm; your brain soon kicks in to reward you for making positive changes. Even your body performs better when you set fairly consistent times for eating, sleeping and exercising. Whatever routine you design for yourself is reinforced whenever you repeat it. In time, new habits feel comfortable and familiar, and every recovering addict can use that kind of stability.

In the past, substance abuse was your default setting when you were lonely, bored, depressed or anxious. The idea is to create a new, healthier default setting in which life-enhancing habits replace self-destructive ones. If you establish a good routine, your mind, body and spirit will quickly go along with it. You’ll be in control again.

Establishing a Routine

A structured lifestyle has special benefits for recovering addicts.

Poor health and insomnia are common problems for newly sober people. Scheduling long-overdue doctor visits and dental exams will help you bounce back. Healthy meals will replace lost nutrients. Going to bed and waking at the same time each day will regulate your body clock for better sleep.

Planning a routine in addiction recovery will keep you from feeling overwhelmed. You’ll see that every aspect of life is manageable. Scheduling your time leaves little room for procrastination, loneliness and boredom, which are all triggers to relapse.

Here are some ideas for designing your routine:

  • Prioritize recovery. Quickly decide where and how often you will attend meetings or speak with your sponsor.
  • Set a regular bedtime and time to wake up. Allow time for a healthy, unrushed breakfast before work.
  • Set consistent mealtimes. Research nutrition websites for menu-planning.
  • Set realistic and consistent times for exercise. Start slowly, and gradually increase the length of your workouts as you build stamina.
  • Schedule family time or date nights with your spouse.
  • Schedule daily and weekly household tasks such as cleaning, doing laundry and paying bills.
  • Schedule time for entertainment, hobbies and socialization. You might enjoy Monday Night Football, a daily crossword, a weekly movie night or a monthly book club. Get in touch with sober friends you haven’t seen in a while. Volunteer in your community.
  • Make time for quiet, restorative activities like yoga, religious services, journaling or reading inspirational books.

Fill in all the specifics. Take a careful look at the final product, and rethink anything that could become a pitfall.

For example, your bike route shouldn’t take you past the neighborhood bar you used to frequent. You may not be ready to attend the wedding of a friend if a lot of drinking is planned. If you scheduled time for music, change up your playlist to eliminate songs that you associate with drinking or drug use. Gambling, online bidding, viewing pornography, eating junk food and even overexercising are addictive behaviors. Avoid them.

Adjusting for Balance

Try your schedule out for a few days or a couple of weeks. You may have to tweak it for balance. There shouldn’t be large gaps of free time, but you shouldn’t be working 60 hours a week or watching TV all weekend either. Scheduling diverse activities will keep you from getting bored and make you a more well-rounded person.

Remaining Flexible

Becoming fixated on a routine defeats its purpose. You fought hard to break free from addiction, so don’t become a slave to your schedule.

Don’t neglect loved ones just for the sake of ticking off items on your list. Don’t get into a predictable rut where you stagnate. Pencil in plenty of time for classes or new activities that you’ve always wanted to try.

Be flexible. As long as your choices support sobriety, you’re okay. Feel free to skip the garage cleaning on a beautiful day. Take the kids to the park instead.

At Desert Cove Recovery, we’re committed to supporting you through each stage of the journey. If you need help getting started on a routine, call us today to speak with an experienced counselor.

 

sober during holidays

Staying Sober During the Holidays

Avoiding Relapse During the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us once again. This time of year brings about many joyful opportunities for gathering together with friends and family members to enjoy food, fun, and laughter. However, for many who were once addicted to alcohol or other substances, the holiday season can prove to be a difficult time as well.

It can be difficult for many people who were once addicted to harmful substances to remain sober during a time when stress and many temptations abound. However, with a plan of action in place, it is possible to fight off temptations and remain sober during this trying time of year. The following tips have been gathered to help you remain sober during the holidays and get your new year off to the best and healthiest start.

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What Makes the Holiday Season Difficult for Many People in Recovery

The holiday season is something many people look forward to. It is a time of excitement, cheer, and happiness for most of us. However, there are certain things about this time of year that can trigger a person in recovery to drink or use a substance again. These temptations might include the following triggers or events.

Added Stress During the Holidays

Shopping for gifts for loved ones, making last minute travel plans, and having a house full of loud relatives can add to the already present stress of everyday life. Add in grocery shopping and cooking an elaborate meal for close friends and family and you have the recipe for a very stressful period of time. Handling stress and not letting it build up is an important part of maintaining control of the situation and your reaction to the events that occur. Sometimes controlling how you react to the situation is all you can do, so it’s vital to have proper ways in which to manage stress to help prevent relapse.

Running into Negative Associates

Whenever someone who is addicted to alcohol or other substances seeks proper treatment, part of the recovery plan usually involves creating a new circle of friends and avoiding those they once abused substances with. While attending holiday parties and other gatherings, it is possible that you may run into people you once spent time with when you were actively abusing alcohol or other substances. For many people, this may bring back memories that can create a strong desire to engage in those negative behaviors once again. Having a plan in place for proper ways to handle these temptations before they occur is an important part of triumphing over them.

Temptations at Gatherings

Holiday parties and gatherings usually include both food and alcohol. Just the mere presence of alcohol can be a reminder of the sensations you experienced when you were consuming it regularly. Therefore, it is important to realize ahead of time that these types of gatherings will almost always include alcohol. A support system that you can rely on to distract you from temptations can be helpful. Knowing your limits and weaknesses can also be beneficial. If you feel being confronted with the temptation of alcohol at parties will be too strong, it may be best to avoid attending them at all.

Tips for Remaining Sober During the Holidays

Having a proper plan in place for dealing with the previously mentioned temptations is an important part of overcoming them. The following tips can give you a good idea of different ways to start formulating a plan for remaining sober this holiday season.

Keep Your Distance from Negative Locations or People

Bumping into people you once spent time with while you were engaging in destructive patterns of drinking could potentially set off emotions that can create temptations to drink again. If you know the areas that these people tend to gather, it is best to avoid them altogether. It is even better if you can arrange to spend time with new friends that help you fight the temptations to drink.

Create New and Healthy Traditions

Replacing old patterns of destructive behavior with new and healthy holiday traditions can help you overcome memories and fight off temptations to engage in these actions again. Starting new traditions will give you something exciting to look forward to each holiday season as you create new memories with your loved ones.

Attend Support Meetings or Groups

Support groups can be a huge blessing during the holiday season. It can be very helpful to associate with others who have overcome their addictions just like you. These individuals know firsthand how hard it can be to fight off temptations during the holidays. Their empathy and understanding can go far towards helping you feel a level of support that will prove encouraging all season long.

Create a Network of Support

Creating a strong network of individuals who understand the temptations this season can create will be beneficial for you as well. Knowing their support is just a phone call away can offer the strength and peace of mind you need to have confidence in your ability to remain sober.

Get Adequate Sleep

Adequate sleep, along with the support provided by nutritious foods and moderate exercise, can go a long way toward strengthening your resolve to stay sober. Sleep deprivation, while common during this time of the year, can weaken your resolve to decline tempting activities, events, or invitations. Taking care of the physical needs of your body and mind is an important part of remaining emotionally strong.

Start the New Year in Continued Recovery

You fought long and hard to break free from the chains of alcohol addiction. You probably attended a treatment program, completely changed many aspects of your life, and endured the difficult time of detoxing your body from the effects of alcohol abuse. Remember the things that you have gone through and how hard you have fought to achieve sobriety. Keeping this journey fresh in your mind can help you fight temptations and remain strong this holiday season and all the ones still to come.

Simple Resource from NIDA Helping Criminal Offenders Avoid Relapse

avoid relapseThe National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has developed a new, low-tech tool to help prevent relapse for at-risk offenders leaving prison. The Drugs and the Brain Wallet Card (DBWC) is a resource for former drug users who were incarcerated and are now returning to society. It can also be used by those in early recovery in a number of other settings as well. Clients who have participated in a residential treatment program are at risk of relapse when they return home as well, and the threat of overdose upon relapse is very high.

Card Serves as a Resource Guide

The DBWC is a 2-inch x 3.5-inch trifold card. It’s small enough to be kept in a pocket, purse, wallet or a cell phone case. Someone who is in the process of transitioning into society after being incarcerated or after being treated in a residential program can carry it with them.

One of the panels of the card has a space where the addict or their counselor can fill in individual triggers leading to temptations to use or drink. These may include specific places where the person used to go to drink or use drugs. Other triggers may include certain sights or sounds, such as the neon lights from a bar or glasses clinking and people or situations that are not good for them.

The space on the card can also be used to fill in local resources that can be accessed if the person feels they need help. These resources may include a counselor, a sponsor or a helpline. They would include any person or agency that a person who feels they are at risk of a relapse could reach out to for help quickly.

Community Re-entry Means Increased Risk for Relapse

Anyone who is re-entering the community is at a higher risk for relapse. They don’t have the structure of residential treatment program or the correctional institution in this early phase of their recovery, and it takes time to adjust.

The DBWC is meant to be used in tandem with ongoing addiction treatment. More than 90,000 cards have been distributed since it was introduced last December. In addition to the drug information and resources on the card, for many people having a physical reminder with them of their commitment to sobriety can be much more effective than an app on their phone or another similar tool.