Alcohol addiction and the Christmas Holidays have a negative, difficult to control relationship. Yet, with preparation, awareness and mindfulness in place, your relationship with sobriety can be positive. Reach out for further advice here at Action Rehab to stay sober.
Christmas and New Year’s celebrations are joyous times, and they unite loved ones, bring together close friends, and provide a good enough reason to unwind, relax and get merry. Yet, for someone recovering from alcoholism, Christmas shouldn’t be a good enough reason to throw in the towel.
Whilst intentions to remain sober can be set; the Christmas Holidays are also a challenging period. It can be a lonely time; for others, it can be stressful, and it can bring up old wounds, complicate relationships and expose many triggers.
Alcohol exposure is normalised around the holiday season, overindulgence is accepted, and the excuse ‘it’s Christmas’ continues to live on. Such a lack of willpower can be problematic for a newly recovering addict to support, for some, resulting in relapse.
There are, however, others who manage to remain sober, on track and true to themselves whilst still enjoying the festivities. You can be that person by following our tips for avoiding holiday relapses.
Christmas and its triggers
There are many triggers to be mindful of over the Christmas holidays. Triggers are usually personal whilst battling alcohol problems. Yet as alcohol exposure heightens, expectations increase and pressures advance, there are some common influences to be prepared for.
Alcohol consumption is at its highest across the festive period. Whether it’s in the office, the Christmas party or the home of a loved one, alcohol exposure is expected. It’s also promoted in supermarkets, advertised on the TV and pretty much normalised anywhere in the UK. Dealing with such an alcohol-heavy month can be challenging, especially for someone who’s already craving consumption.
Although the Christmas holidays bring families and friends together, it can also be a lonely time. Whether out of choice, to avoid the awkward conversations, whether it’s due to a lack of invitation, alcohol-related celebrations, or whether as a result of relationship breakdowns, many addicts are alone over the holidays. Whilst it’s good to keep away from alcohol-related events, loneliness and isolation can also be damaging. Being alone can be emotional, cause excess reflection, and be mentally challenging, triggering relapse for some.
Christmas is an expensive time of year. For someone who’s already worried about finances due to unhealthy habits, the pressure to deliver gifts and the luxuries of Christmas can be challenging. Financial stress can spiral into many addictive behaviours and mental health issues.
Unsupportive family members
Alcohol addiction and the Christmas holidays are a formidable pairing due to unsupportive family members. Those who do not understand addiction and recovery can make this time very tough. Some may unknowingly enable relapse, others may approach the topic unkindly, whilst others may seclude addicts from the festivities. Excessive contact with those family members beyond normal visits can be tough to deal with.
A change in routine
Routine is essential whilst controlling the addiction recovery process, and the Christmas holidays tend to change routines, commitments, and lifestyle choices. Taking your eye off the ball can trigger unhealthy habits, which, if enabled, can justify alcohol exposure and consumption.
There are many obstacles to the Christmas holidays, and it’s essential to be prepared. With our below tips, you can look to enjoy the festivities whilst avoiding signs and symptoms of alcohol relapse.
Tips for avoiding holiday relapse this Christmas
Be aware of personal triggers
Through experience, you’ll know what type of environments, feelings and situations rank as high risk. Being aware of your personal triggers will allow you to be picky over Christmas. Any form of engagement that will trigger thoughts about alcohol, thoughts about consumption and actual consumption can then be avoided or at least planned for.
Keep as much of a routine as possible
You’ll already have a routine in place to keep your alcohol addiction at bay. By keeping to your routine as much as possible, you’ll have your coping strategies and healthy choices normalised. Expect some changes over the festive period. Yet prioritise the habits and choices which help you stay sober.
Be honest with those you trust
You’ll likely have a family member or friend who understands you and your lifestyle. Be honest with yourself and those that you trust throughout this challenging time. Sharing your needs and how you hope to manoeuvre around the Christmas holidays will ease the load. You’ll have someone watching on to help you remain on track.
Continue with therapy/support groups
Therapy sessions and support groups will be available across Christmas. Rehab centres are open, as addiction recovery is a year-round demand. You should continue as normal to attend your sessions. Support groups are especially beneficial to share experiences and gain guidance from those battling alcohol abuse and alcoholism. If you need further support at Action Rehab, we encourage you to reach for it.
Avoid high-alcohol exposure
Although easier said than done, it’s important to avoid places with high alcohol exposure. For example, visiting a pub on Christmas day will not be wise. Whilst it’s essential to have company and avoid being alone, it’s also essential to avoid places with heavily intoxicated people and places that promote excessive alcohol consumption. Spending your time with sober friends will instead be recommended.
Have a plan B in place
It’s always best to be prepared with a plan B. Your addiction recovery journey is still the priority over Christmas, and this is acceptable if you miss a party or get together as it may trigger your alcohol habits. A plan B will ensure you have an exit strategy that you can use in any uncomfortable and influential situations.
Prioritise your mental health
Poor mental health can trigger alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Many people experience a relapse of mental health issues over the festive period due to excessive stress, pressure, and substance abuse. By prioritising yours, you’ll be in control, you’ll be stable, and you’ll be focused on staying sober.
Alcohol addiction and the Christmas holidays can be manageable with the above tips. Yet understandably, for some, it can still be too much. Further rehabilitation and support can be accessed through private rehab, helping remove yourself from any possible triggers.
At Action Rehab, we can help you find available support to guide you through this time, either on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Prioritise your alcohol addiction recovery journey by doing whatever it takes to protect yourself this Christmas.