Part 3: Addiction, Recovery, and Navigating the Holidays

Holiday Success in Recovery

Recovery from opioid use disorder (OUD) is something to be grateful for and celebrate this holiday season.  Whether you are early in recovery or years into your journey, this time of year can be an obstacle course of triggers and temptations. Now is the time to assess these dangers and prepare for the coming weeks.

Know Your Triggers
For people who have suffered OUD, the holiday season is full of potential for relapse. Protecting recovery begins with knowing what your triggers are. You may be able to make this assessment on your own, but extra therapy or meetings leading up to the holidays are also a great way to prepare.

Common factors that affect individuals in recovery may be:

  • Complicated or strained family relationships
  • Guilt and shame from past behavior
  • Changes in routine
  • Financial stress
  • Heightened grief, loneliness, or depression

Prioritize Self Care
Atypical routines and added stress can make it easy to skip the little things that keep us healthy. One of the best ways to promote your recovery is to make sure that you are eating well, exercising, and getting a good night’s sleep. Make time for the ways you choose to support your emotional health – meditation, yoga, prayer, reading, therapy, or group meetings.

Remember that it is okay to say “no.” Don’t be afraid to decline invitations that will cause triggers or temptations. If you do attend holiday events, prepare an exit strategy now for possible dangers that arise. Have scripts for declining substances or making early exists when needed.  Know that you are free to choose what holiday events you attend and who you spend your time with.

Seek Support
Communicate with supportive family members ahead of the holidays. Share your fears regarding the upcoming holiday. If you need additional support, bring a friend who is also in recovery. This can provide tremendous comfort in stressful situations.

Be prepared with contact information for support groups and therapists. This is especially important if you are travelling. Research ahead local resources where you will be visiting.

For financial strains, getting help with food and gifts may just be the key to sticking with your recovery. Reach out to local organizations for assistance.

Create New Traditions
If old traditions jeopardize your recovery, this is the year to make changes. Strained family relationships and lingering conflicts could be a trigger. A chosen family of friends from recovery can be the perfect new holiday tradition. This type of group will promote a sober event full of supportive people. Local recovery organizations everywhere offer holiday celebrations. These are excellent alternatives to holiday parties. Set your own table and host an event that celebrates your recovery your way.