12 Addiction Triggers Around Christmas/New Year
Around this time we often hear about the 12 Days of Christmas. This period starts on the 26th December (Boxing Day) and ends on the 6th January. However, the danger period for us alcoholics and addicts starts long before then in the build up to Christmas.
Christmas and Drinking
Despite the fact that many people associate the Christmas period with over indulgence in terms of alcohol and other mood altering substances (if that is your thing), there is no reason why us alcoholics and addicts in recovery cannot enjoy ourselves. After all, children enjoy Christmas and glow with excitement despite not drinking or using drugs. In early recovery we effectively have to relearn how to relax and enjoy ourselves without alcohol or drugs.
Christmas – Be Mindful of Risky Situations
While we are doing this, we should be mindful of anything that puts us at risk of relapsing. So in the spirit of Christmas and keeping to the theme of 12, here are some potential relapse triggers of which to be wary.
1) Going to parties where everyone is drinking / using.
This is an obvious one. If you feel that going to the pub or a party is going to put your recovery at risk then don’t go. Make an excuse if you have to. If you do go, when you get there if you feel uncomfortable with all the drinking that is going on around you, then leave. Make sure you have an out – don’t be reliant on someone else for when you can leave. Go to the party with someone who will understand and support you.
2. Peer pressure.
Whether at a party or just generally with family and friends, don’t let anyone put pressure on you to have a drink or drug. You know that anyone who says ‘Just one can’t hurt’ is absolutely wrong. One will lead to another and another and another until you are back in the full cycle of addiction. A firm refusal should suffice or if necessary make an excuse e.g. that you have developed an allergy to it (which in a manner of speaking you have)
3. Christmas – Not being prepared to resist an unexpected offer of drink or drugs.
This is not necessarily peer pressure but just someone unwittingly offering something they do not realise is so dangerous for you. In a moment of weakness you can find yourself accepting it – and so begins the start of a major relapse.
4. Finding an old stash.
Similarly if you find an ‘old stash’ of drink or drugs that you did not realise was there, you can similarly be caught out with a moment of weakness. If you think you may have some forgotten supplies somewhere, have a good look while in a positive frame of mind and have a trusted friend or family member help you to look and safely dispose of anything found.
5. Feeling you have got it sorted and can control it.
You might be able to control it for a short period but if you get away with it one day, the chances are that the next you will have more, and the next more again – until you are back in the full flood of addiction.
6. Having an argument.
This applies at any time but emotions and sensitivities can be heightened around Christmas and New Year. Everyone has arguments but if you feel that this is a major trigger for you then try and avoid getting embroiled in one. And if you do, do not use it as an excuse to have a drink or drug. Do not let your anger at others make you think ‘I will show you how bad you have made me feel!’. In the end, the person who will end up feeling most bad and who will suffer the most is you!
7. Old anger and resentment.
Festering feelings also pose a huge risk to the recovering alcoholic / addict. If you are feeling hard done by or angry, then there are ways of dealing with this – usually by looking at how we could have behaved differently and taking responsibility for our part in the issue, and forgiving the other person. Obviously it depends what occurred but chances are the anger is eating you up and the other person is not as affected or is even totally unaffected.
8. Christmas Loneliness.
The festive season is a time when loneliness can be even more marked and hard felt. Do not isolate – reach out to people. You will be surprised how many will be pleased to hear from you. Even though you may not realise it, it is possible that the person you are contacting is also lonely.
If you are mourning a recent death or still missing someone very dear to you, as with loneliness it can seem that comfort will be found in a bottle or mood altering substance. However, resorting to this will not bring the person back and will only make things so much worse for you and the people who care about you and are still alive. Talk about how you feel – reach out to others.
10. Feeling sorry for yourself for other reasons will also seem like an excuse to relapse.
It is not. Self pity is not an attractive trait! Write a list of all that is in your life for which you should be grateful. Think about what is good in your life (that you would miss if you no longer had it) rather than what you would like to be different. Plan to change what you are not happy with and take action!
11. Hearing difficult news.
Any bad news can tempt us to want to escape from dealing with it and to blur our feelings. This will not help the situation. Whatever the news it needs to be faced and dealt with.
12. Christmas – Feeling happy.
This is no excuse to addiction relapse but there are those that will use this as the reason that they should have a drink or start back on the drugs.
So be careful. Christmas Day itself is only a day. You have come too far now if you are clean and sober to give it up just because it is a season for people to drink and use. Guard your recovery – it is worth special protection.
If you need to talk or need help for yourself/family member please call us on 01462 851414