This is a common fear among thousands of people in recovery. With the holidays coming up, many fear that an event, person, place, smell, sound, emotion, or other nuance will manifest other emotions that could lead towards a relapse. We all know that recovery is a day-to-day process, and we don’t want to disregard all the challenging work that we’ve done. We also don’t want to hold ourselves up to such lofty expectations that we cause ourselves to fail out of pressure. The good news, is that a simple shift in perspective surrounding the topic of relapse during the holidays can relieve some of the pressure we are feeling and can open more room for forgiveness and learning if we do relapse, because after all, we’re human.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) states that approximately 90% of those recovering from alcoholism are likely to experience at least one relapse in the 4-year period following treatment. This is mainly due to the nature of addiction – we don’t always know what our triggers are until we meet them, and if we relapse, we should treat it as a learning experience. Aside from physical cravings, many experience intense emotions that cause them to want to abuse substances again. For example, running into an old love on your way to a holiday event could be highly upsetting to you and you may begin ruminating over that old flame. Spiraling could be easy in this scenario and without the right tools, anyone could relapse. This doesn’t mean that you have failed – it just means you didn’t catch that trigger in enough time to begin using the tools you’ve learned, and you now understand how your emotions can trigger you to relapse and how you can prevent that from happening in the future.
Holidays can especially cause worry because emotions are often heightened; seeing family members that you haven’t seen in a long time could arise emotions from the last time you saw them, whether that moment consisted of positive or negative feelings. Perhaps during holiday events you felt that things were going well – to your knowledge, nothing went wrong and, so you bind to the idea that you have, to much dismay, “failed” at recovery. This is false; over-confidence and general happiness can trigger relapse if you feel that you’re fully “cured” or that you can have “one drink” because you know when to stop yourself. Even with this scenario, it’s a lesson learned. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Analyze what you could have done differently, and adjust before it happens next time. Continue practicing your tools. You can do this.
New Vista Behavioral Health is home to several world-renowned mental health and addiction recovery treatment centers. We believe in supporting you every step of the way to restore your mind, body, and spirit. Call us today at 888-316-3665 for a consultation.