How to navigate through addiction, recovery, relapse and the Covid-19 pandemic over the holidays.
The end of year celebrations tend to trigger a relapse in many of those who are living with substance abuse disorders and this year, thanks to the global pandemic, it could be even worse. Every year, the holiday season creates challenges for those who are battling addictions and substance abuse disorders. Most of the time it’s the holiday parties, the social events (think end of year office and social gatherings etc) that make the consumption of alcohol look increasingly inviting. 2020, thanks to the pandemic has caused more relapses than ever and complicated things further due to the stresses associated with the effects of the virus.
Ask any recovering alcoholic and they will tell you just how important face-to-face meetings and connecting with other sober people is when fighting addiction. . Without support, avoiding relapse and recovery is nearly impossible. Now remember that people have been isolated for months, and that isolation is not good at all for those in recovery. During those alone times, it is crucial to get support.
Do you need help?
So how do you know if you actually need help during the holidays? Well, the golden rule of it all is; if your alcohol usage continues to have negative outcomes in your life, you probably have a problem. Continuing on a negative trajectory with alcohol consumption (and drug use) is a prime indicator that your body is addicted to a substance and it will take over, if it has not already. With the stress of the holidays adding another layer to a person’s recovery journey, it is crucial to seek out assistance before a relapse, because going at it alone rarely, if ever works, let alone during these crazy times. Remember, recovery is 24 hours a day. It is one day at a time and it has to be continuous to work.
Link to: That time of year that’s difficult to be sober
How to help a loved one over the holidays
If you are concerned that a loved one may need professional help, the best thing you could do is lead by example. Let’s use one of our relapse case studies as an example:
*Peter is 9 months sober from his drinking addiction after a relapse in March. Peter said the pandemic took a toll on his sobriety and he didn’t take any virtual meetings (mostly over zoom) seriously. He realised the consequences of his actions and admitted that he needed to start over.
Peter has an alcohol addiction but also stays away from dagga and it not only is something that he is quite addicted to but often the one triggers the other. It is best, in his own words “to stay away from both for my own wellbeing.” lets I relapse Now, heading into the ‘pandemic holidays’ for the first time in recovery, he is planning on escalating his sobriety game. This means more meetings, creating sober focused activities (lots of outdoor things!) and hanging out with people who do not drink, or lead a sober life.
If there is a family function or event that creates a situation where alcohol is present, Peter will have a sober buddy with him. This can make all the difference when navigating through the party/function.
So. What is the lesson here? Use the example of Peter. Be it for yourself or for a loved one. Think ahead, know that every action has consequences and more so for you or your recovering loved one, ESPECIALLY during these unusual and challenging times.
Link to: see the 10 most common relapse triggers
9 things to do to Avoid a Relapse
We have a checklist of things you should think about as you head into the holiday celebrations to ensure that you or the person you care for is taken care of and relapse is not something to worry about.
- Speak to us. Houghton House Group of Treatment Centres has a wealth of knowledge and is constantly upskilling and learning about the ever changing world of sobriety and the pandemic. We can structure plans and systems to get you through these challenging times.
- Find fun activities that challenge your brain and body, not your will power. Trail running, hiking, board games (especially during cold days), learning of skills such as archery or painting, chess or even bird watching.
- Outdoor activities lead less towards drinking than indoor more often than not.
- Decide on events by their merit and your worth. Do you need to go to that end of year pub party, really? Leave early, enjoy the food and spend time chatting to people about things you are learning to do. Who knows, they may have mutual interests in your hobbies!
- Find a sober buddy if you are concerned about an event.
- Do not risk all your hard work and dedication due to peer pressure, be it at work or home. You are the master of your own ship. You need to navigate through the holiday season. You need to be in control.
- Write it all down. Schedule. Plan. Relook and revisit ideas. Structure can assist in keeping you on the right path, like a workout routine does for a fitness enthusiast. You are ‘working out’ your sobriety muscles, make it a proper workout!
- Always remember that someone is there for you, no matter how lost, alone or tempted you feel.
- Save a number on your phone of a person you can call anytime, anywhere to talk to you and if needs be, come to you, if you are battling.
For more information on dealing with drugs or alcohol abuse, avoiding relapse and getting yourself into rehab during the pandemic to start a new life, call Houghton House now
office hours: 011 787 9142
24/7 emergency help line: 079 770 7532
Click on the green envelope below and fill in our contact form, and one of our professional staff members will get back to you via email or phone, respecting your anonymity at all times. Our outpatient services are found at First Step