Although the holidays are a time of good cheer, if you are struggling with addiction, it could mean greater vulnerability to experiencing a relapse. Whether you feel burdened with financial pressures, family obligations, or keeping up appearances, holiday stress can have very real consequences. If you found yourself turning to alcohol and drugs at any point over the season when you were trying to stay sober, I want to emphasize that it is possible to get back on track. Here are 4 methods I recommend.

  1. Avoid High-Risk Scenarios

Particularly in early recovery, avoid high-risk situations where drugs, alcohol, and other vices are easily accessible. I highly suggest that you spend your time, instead, in low-risk situations—for example, going to a movie or a coffee shop. If you are further along in your recovery and you feel more stable attending a party where there is likely to be temptations, plan ahead. Arrive early, leave early, and drive yourself so you have control over both. 

  1. Practice Self-Awareness

Recognizing your own triggers and how to manage them is key for getting back on track. For most people, common triggers are “HALT”—when you feel hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. It is so important to take care of your mental and physical health to help you avoid these feelings altogether. Remember to keep healthy snacks or meals handy and eat every 3-4 hours to avoid low blood sugar, which can cause irritability and anxiety and lead to poor decisions.

  1. Manage Your Stress

Not surprisingly, stress often has a negative impact on people who are fighting addiction. That’s why managing anxiety and overwhelm can be incredibly helpful. Rather than allow them to pile up, I urge curbing your bad feelings as soon as they begin by setting aside some time to relax and decompress. Focus on meditating and pushing away thoughts of giving in to your addiction. Further, you can try replacing the physical routine of a bad habit with a good one, such as exercise.

  1. Develop A Support System

When it comes to addiction—as with most things in life—it is best not tackling it alone. Trust in your family members and close friends as you need them, attend support meetings, and reach out to fellow addicts you have connected with. I always say there’s no shame in asking for someone’s ear or shoulder. Even more importantly, ask one of these individuals (who is also a good influence) to come along with you when attending social events.

If you have taken the steps above and are still feeling vulnerable to succumbing to your addiction, I strongly recommend contacting your Employee Assistance Program for professional support, addictions counselling and resources.