The holidays bring families and friends together, but for those in drug and alcohol recovery, it can be a difficult time to stay sober.
As New Year’s Eve sees people making resolutions for self-improvement and adding a fresh start to the new year, some are finding it tough to stay true to their pledge to avoid drugs and alcohol.
Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor Duane Wirth with the Panhandle Mental Health Center said it’s typical to see some seasonal and holiday depression in recovering addicts. Locally, he hasn’t seen any spikes in this behavior, but it could happen if someone who is in recovery is not on their guard.
Wirth also said a relapse can happen at any given time, not just during the holidays.
“People in recovery should carry an emergency contact list with names of others in recovery and their phone numbers in case they are stressed out, overwhelmed or have the ‘stinkin’ thinkin’” mood,” he said.
In recovery parlance, “stinkin’ thinkin’” refers to self-defeating thought patterns, which can lead an addict to relapse.
“Make a daily schedule and stick with it,” he said. “If they are traveling, they should have a list of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous locations and plan to attend them, too.”
Wirth said there are a variety of ways to fight the last minute urge to go back under the influence of an addiction, but his best advice is to increase involvement with friends and attend events that take place in their recovery program.
“Keep in contact with your sponsor in recovery and avoid all stressers as much as possible and increase meeting attendance,” he said.
If any addicts are feeling they may fall off the wagon during the holiday season, Wirth said those in recovery need to attend 12-step meetings and be involved in any available recovery activities.
“Locally we hold a New Year’s Eve dance at the meeting hall and we also have marathon meetings that start at midnight and go all the way through the holiday season,” he said.
Even if those in recovery have been invited to a party that may involve drugs or alcohol, Wirth said they need to take a recovery friend with them. If they are alone and get uncomfortable, then it is best to make the decision to get out, contact an emergency person and leave the situation instead of relapsing.
“Get help as soon as possible and get a hold of someone as soon as possible,” he said.
Wirth said the best way to stay sober over the holidays is to avoid any big scenes and drama. He added that avoiding any negative self talk is best, too, because if someone in recovery thinks about the consequences before taking that drink or drug and if they ask themselves if they really want to face those consequences, then they will more than likely avoid any setbacks.
“If you think it through, you may avoid the relapse if the negatives outweigh the positives, which they will,” he said. Article Link…