While triggers can occur anytime, the holidays are often a particularly difficult time of year for those in recovery from addiction. The holidays are supposed to be a joyful time for loved ones to celebrate together. For some, the holidays cause stress and bring up negative emotions. What are the most common addiction relapse triggers during the holidays?
What is an Addiction Relapse Trigger?
A trigger can be anything that brings back thoughts and feelings that have to do with addiction. Triggers cause the addict to think about the drug and can lead to obsessive drug seeking/wanting behaviors. Triggers can manifest as a person, place or thing. The only way to effectively deal with triggers is through repeated exposure without reward. For an addict that means not giving in to their addiction.
Shift in Normal Daily Routine
For those in recovery from addiction, a structured daily routine provides the best success for long-term sobriety. Addiction is a destructive force. People who are active in their addiction rarely maintain healthy routines. In order to break free from unsuccessful past behaviors, positive and healthy routines are crucial. A structured daily routine focusing on self-care is highly suggested in recovery. Normal sleeping patterns, healthy eating habits, engaging in regular exercise, reaching out to others in recovery, staying in regular contact with your sponsor, tending to daily responsibilities and attending regular Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are all ways people in recovery establish a structured and healthy daily routine. The holiday season is a time of year when many people experience a shift in their normal daily routine. People often get time off work, travel to see family and become distracted by the upcoming holidays. A dramatic shift in daily routine can cause a person in recovery to feel triggered. It is imperative for people in recovery to try and maintain their daily routine, even during the busy holiday season.
The holiday season is a time where people often travel to see family and purchase gifts for loved ones. Financial difficulties are common with addiction. Addiction is an all-consuming disease and financial stability is rare. People in early recovery are often struggling to maintain or find employment, may be dealing with legal issues and fines or they may be trying to pay for addiction treatment. For someone in recovery, financial difficulties may cause additional stress and feelings of shame. The negative emotions of stress and shame can cause someone in recovery to feel triggered.
Feelings of Depression, Loneliness and Loss
While most people associate the holidays with family and loved ones, for some it may cause feelings of depression, loneliness and loss. Drug and alcohol addiction doesn’t just affect the addict, but everyone in their life. Depending on the actions of the addict during their active using, many relationships may require time to heal. If relationships haven’t been mended, the holiday season may cause the person in recovery to feel negative emotions. Many addicts have experienced significant loss in their life; the holidays may highlight that loss and cause them to feel triggered. Dysfunctional family dynamics are one of the most common causes of addiction related triggers.
The Presence of Drugs or Alcohol at Family Gatherings
The holiday season is a time where social gatherings occur more frequently and when drugs and alcohol have a more significant presence. Celebrations and social gatherings where drugs and alcohol are present are one of the most common instances where people in recovery experience triggers. For people in early recovery, attending a social gathering where others are drinking or using drugs may cause an addiction related trigger. In situations where drugs and alcohol will be present it is highly suggested that a person in recovery bring a sober friend for additional support.
Concerned About Yourself or a Loved One?
Triggers are a normal part of addiction but can contribute to the decision to relapse. It is imperative that people in recovery become aware of what triggers them in order to avoid a potential relapse. The only way to effectively deal with triggers is through repeated exposure without reward, for an addict that means not giving in to their addiction.
Last Updated on May 24, 2022