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Holiday Stress and Relapse

stressed-looking woman sated on couch by Christmas tree pondering the connection between holiday stress and relapse

The holiday season is typically associated with joy and celebration. However, it can also bring about a unique set of stressors that pose challenges for individuals in recovery from substance use disorder. Holidays are supposed to be festive, but they also carry a lot of expectations that can generate tremendous stress or anxiety. Unfortunately, stress and relapse go hand-in-hand, which is why the holidays can be a time of concern rather than joy for many Americans.

Insight Recovery Center is a comprehensive outpatient addiction treatment facility in Asheville, North Carolina. We offer a relapse prevention therapy program and a robust aftercare program that teaches relapse prevention techniques while providing ongoing educational and support resources. Call 828.826.1376 today to learn how we can help you or a loved one navigate the holidays, stress, and relapse.

Common Sources of Holiday Stress

The holiday season, by which most people mean fall and winter months, can be a source of stress in the best of times. The holidays can be stressful for anyone with all the demands and expectations placed upon a person. From hosting a Christmas or Super Bowl party to getting the right gift to traveling back home, it can be daunting. However, for those in recovery from drugs or alcohol, the holidays may involve people and places that serve as potential triggers for their old life of substance use.

Common holiday stressors can include:

  • Family dynamics – Interactions with family members can often be stressful. Unresolved conflicts or strained relationships can trigger negative emotions and increase the risk of relapse.
  • Pressure to be perfect – The pressure to host the perfect party or find the ideal gift can lead to heightened anxiety and stress, which can potentially trigger a desire to use substances as a coping mechanism.
  • Presence of alcohol triggers – Holidays are often characterized by increased social events and celebrations where alcohol is present. This can be a significant trigger for individuals in recovery.
  • Seasonal weather effects on mood – Winter weather can sometimes lead to feelings of sadness or depression, known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which could potentially increase the risk of relapse.

Managing holiday stress is essential to avoiding relapse, and a professional addiction treatment center like Insight Recovery Center can help.

Holiday Stress and Relapse – The Connection

These stressors can potentially trigger a relapse in individuals who are in recovery from substance use disorders. When stress levels rise, the brain may crave the substances that it previously relied upon to cope. This craving can be powerful and difficult to resist, leading to a relapse.

Relapses can have serious adverse effects on an individual’s health and well-being, including physical health complications, emotional distress, and potential damage to personal relationships and professional life.

Importance of Relapse Prevention Techniques

Given the risks associated with holiday stressors, it’s crucial to practice relapse prevention techniques. Here are some practical ways you can manage stress during the holidays:

  • Prioritize self-care – Ensure you’re getting adequate sleep, eating healthy, and exercising regularly.
  • Seek support – Reach out to your support network or connect with a sobriety community.
  • Practice mindfulness – Techniques such as meditation and deep breathing can help manage stress.
  • Plan ahead – If you’re attending an event where alcohol will be present, plan how you’ll handle the situation.
  • Communicate effectively – Be open about your recovery with trusted friends and family. They can provide much-needed support.

The holidays and recovery are not incompatible. It is possible to have a joyful and sober holiday season filled with fun activities and surrounded by friends and family.

Contact Insight Recovery Center Today

At Insight Recovery Center in Asheville, NC, we understand the challenges of maintaining sobriety during the holiday season. We’re here to provide you with the necessary tools and support to navigate this time and prevent relapse. Contact us today online or call 828.826.1376 for assistance on your path to recovery.