Fighting addiction relapse at Christmas

Published by John Gillen | Last updated: 3rd April 2023

Fighting addiction relapse at Christmas

From excessive social events, to the acceptance of overeating and drinking, while viewed as a wonderful time of year, Christmas in fact causes havoc for our health.

For the average person, optimal sleep, healthy eating, exercise, and self-care will go out of the window, which is bearable for the festive period.

Yet, for recovering addicts, those everyday intentions are in fact their coping strategies, which without, can increase relapse risks.

Down to this, while many may have the pleasure to overindulge or spend their festive period intoxicated, this isn’t the case for recovering addicts. They will in fact do everything possible to avoid drug and alcohol exposure.

This is the best way to go about it, with the intentions of fighting addiction relapse at Christmas, with sustainable, structured steps.

While it may feel like a good idea in the moment to partake in unhealthy Christmas traditions, it won’t be. While you may believe that influences will be kept at bay with your loved ones, there’s a likelihood that they won’t be.

While you may believe that using the excuse of ‘it’s Christmas’ is justifiable, and will not undo your hard work, it won’t be.

Christmas is a true test of addiction relapse, which you can aim to fight by maintaining a positive lifestyle, starting your own traditions. For support around fighting addiction relapse this Christmas, contact our team at Cassiobury Court, standing as addiction recovery specialists.

Christmas can still be a magical time, while helping you celebrate a relapse-free reality.


Relapse at Christmas – the reality of addiction recovery

Addiction recovery is an exhilarating time, providing a great opportunity to change. There are many positive encounters linked to the recovery journey, which can drive the motivation to remain sober. Yet, there is also a negative side of addiction recovery.

The true reality of addiction recovery resembles a rollercoaster. Emotions can be all over the place, mental health states can deviate, decisions can soon become irrational, yet control can be regained with food for thought.

Through addiction recovery, there will also be some high-risk situations which can make the journey even harder.

For most, addiction relapse risks will be linked to any form of drug and alcohol exposure, to environmental and social influences, or to pre-existing triggers. Yet, for others, events just like Christmas can make the reality of addiction recovery that much harder.

Social gatherings are a common trigger, as are drug and alcohol enabled environments, as are family get-togethers, as are the pressures caused by Christmas, as are the emotions linked to the festive period, and as are the change in lifestyle choices, down to Christmas celebrations.

It’s easy to see how fighting addiction relapse at Christmas can be very challenging, especially as how unhealthy the norm of Christmas is for the majority. Yet, by adapting your norm, Christmas can still be enjoyed, while fighting addiction relapse risks, cravings and triggers.


Tips for Fighting Addiction Relapse During Christmas

If you’ve progressed through addiction rehab, and reached the other side, you’ve achieved something which will benefit your forever future. You’ve in fact committed to a positive and worthwhile lifestyle change, down to the success that you’ve fulfilled.

Throughout the festive period, it is important to remember that, that commitment, must continue, even if it’s Christmas or not. Spanning over a few days of celebration, Christmas will come and go, yet your ongoing security of sober living will not pass by that easily.

With this in mind, following some tips for fighting addiction relapse at Christmas is recommended, helping you live for the future, and not just for Christmas.

Plan out your Christmas period
Commonly, true festivities will last 1-2 weeks. At the same time every year, spending some time planning out your Christmas celebrations is recommended. By making sure that you have plenty to keep you busy, falling victim of cravings and of relapse risks will be unlikely.

Be honest with yourself
You know yourself better than anyone else. If you have a gut instinct or feel like a situation is a high risk, you must be honest with yourself and those around you. Do not place yourself in a high-risk situation for the sake of others.

This is how fighting addiction relapse at Christmas is possible, especially when focusing on the influence of social gatherings.

Reduce exposure to your triggers
You’ll have knowledge of your personal triggers, linked to relapse risks. Understanding them, communicating them to others, and reducing your exposure as much as possible is recommended. For example, spending your time in a heavy drinking environment will not be recommended.

Likewise, for some, bereavement can influence substance abuse. So, avoiding contact with anything to do with the loss of a loved one will be advised. Personal to you, you can control your response to triggers.

Rely on those around you and your relapse prevention plan
Christmas is a time to spend with your loved ones. However, it’s important that you spend the time with those who support you, who you can trust, and who also appreciate what you’re going through. A strong support network, along with your own relapse prevention plan should help you through high-risk addiction relapse risks.

Focus on drug and alcohol-free celebrations
This may feel like a hard step, however, there are many drug and alcohol-free celebrations to consider. Spend your time around those who do not rely on drugs or alcohol, involve yourself in positive, healthy and giving activities.

Know your feelings and limits
You will have an understanding of your limits and feelings. Allow them to guide you this Christmas, helping you decide on your next best step. If you feel like a relapse is likely, it’s time to act quickly.

Prioritise your lifestyle
It’s likely that your current routine is helping you fight addiction relapse risks. Prioritising that exact routine will help you maintain a positive lifestyle, ignoring the common influences of Christmas.

While you may feel isolated, it’s important that you think about yourself and your current coping strategies. Following the above steps will help you avoid the negative impact of isolation this Christmas, fighting addiction relapse risks even greater.


Relapse support here at Cassiobury Court

By following the above tips, fighting addiction relapse at Christmas can be a realistic goal. It’s understandable that you will want to celebrate and feel involved.

Yet, it’s important that you do so with care, with consideration and with the intentions to remain sober.

Relapse risks are present for all, especially through high-risk times, such as Christmas.

Yet, through controlling your time, environments, actions and decisions, you can overcome the already influential time for drug and alcohol consumption.

If you’re looking for relapse support, if you’re unsure how to fight addiction relapse in detail, or if you require immediate addiction support, contact our team at Cassiobury Court.

Making proactive choices now can benefit your Christmas experiences for this year and for the future.

John Gillen

John Gillen - Author Last updated: 3rd April 2023

John Gillen is a leading addiction treatment expert with over 15 years of experience providing evidence-based treatment methods for individuals throughout the UK. John also co-authors the book, The Secret Disease of Addiction, which delves into how the addictive mind works and what treatment techniques work best.