While addiction triggers can occur at any time of year, the holidays are among the most tempting times for those in recovery.
Between the parties, gift exchanges, and good food, this celebratory time of year poses significant risks for relapse that can be devastating to you and your progress — if not adequately managed.
If you’re overcoming addiction this holiday season, here’s what you need to know about the most common detox triggers and the steps you can take to avoid them.
Common Holiday Addiction Triggers to Know
Holiday parties and gatherings
From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, the holiday season is often a time for gathering with those closest. In the six-week stretch of festivities, there are family get-togethers, corporate parties, and social events that bring people together to celebrate in more ways than one.
For anyone struggling with addiction, social gatherings can be an incredibly tempting trigger, especially when alcohol and drugs are present. Just being around people who are drinking or doing drugs is among the most common relapse causes — making up 20% of cases.
Alcohol, in particular, is often the main event of holiday parties. If you find yourself surrounded by people who are binge drinking, it’s okay to politely decline any offers, step away, and even leave the function altogether to avoid falling victim to alcohol addiction.
While the holidays are often meant for connecting with loved ones, reuniting with family members can be more stressful than expected — regardless of whether or not you’re in recovery. Seeing family may mean traveling long distances, planning/hosting parties, reconnecting with distant relatives, and even facing family related-trauma, which can trigger spurts of anxiety and depression.
If you’re visiting family you haven’t seen in a while; you’ll also likely be having the typical conversation about what you’ve been up to lately. If your year has been spent in recovery, this may lead to awkward interactions — especially if you’re around unsupportive relatives.
In between traveling, planning, and catching up, strong emotions can lead to substance cravings. As a result, it can be easy to fall into a mental trap that convinces you that a drink or two will help take the edge off.
Buying presents for loved ones is a tradition of the holiday season. But hefty price tags often come with financial stresses that feel like you’re breaking the bank.
In a 2021 Sesame study, researchers found that shopping for gifts is one of America’s biggest stressors over the holidays, with 21% of people considering it their #1 cause of stress. If you’re concerned about money this holiday season, all the extra gifts weighing on your wallet can be enough to lead to relapse.
In addition, throwing an elaborate holiday party involves multiple moving parts — many of which are not free. To lower the cost of holiday party planning, beat the celebration stress, and avoid any addiction triggers, it’s best to have a budget defined well in advance and follow it as closely as possible.
Tips for Managing Holiday Triggers
Although the holiday season may come with its own addiction triggers, that doesn’t mean you’re doomed for a relapse. With the right mindset and preparatory work, you can take part in the festivities and alleviate stress without sacrificing all your progress.
Know your triggers
Before overcoming your holiday triggers, you’ll first need to know what they are. Everyone experiences addiction and recovery differently, and what triggers someone else may not affect you the same.
Do you get stressed easily by attending holiday parties? Does visiting with family stir up strong emotions? Does witnessing others partake in drugs and alcohol leave you with the fear of missing out?
Once you know the scenarios that bring about cravings or tempt you to use, it’ll be easier to avoid them and manage them once they arise.
Well past the holiday season, learning to say no and walk away when faced with temptation is crucial in managing your recovery.
One way to stay accountable for your sobriety during the holidays includes setting firm boundaries with yourself and your loved ones. If you and others hold you to a certain expectation, you’ll be more motivated to make it happen.
For example, set clear rules for leaving a holiday function early if you feel uncomfortable. If you’d prefer to have everyone know your boundaries ahead of time, sit down with family and friends to discuss what triggers you and how you can work together to limit any stressful situations.
Start each day with a plan
Routine disruptions are expected, but having a plan in place can help make the holiday season less chaotic.
To stay on track with your recovery, it’s a good idea to wake up with a plan of attack to keep sober. This plan can include anything from who you will stick around with at holiday parties to how you will budget money and respond if offered drugs or alcohol.
When you have more options going into the holiday season, you’ll feel less overwhelmed when confronted with triggers and more comfortable removing yourself when necessary.
Remember that your sobriety is more important than attending every event you’re invited to.
Overcome Your Triggers at a Detox Recovery Center in New Orleans
From dazzling light shows to classic Creole dishes, celebrating the holiday season in New Orleans is an experience unlike any other. But for those in recovery, the holidays can be more tempting than joyous.
At NOLA Detox and Recovery Center, we help guide our patients through their path to recovery by offering world-class inpatient and outpatient treatment with a unique New Orleans flair.
If you’re struggling with addiction, our recovery team can help you identify and manage your holiday triggers so that you can enjoy the season without sacrificing a good time. We’re proud to be locally owned and operated, and we’re available 24/7 to step in when you need it most.
Call us today to get help this season at our detox recovery center in New Orleans.