Holiday Relapse Triggers to Watch Out For

Patient Support

The holiday season can be a magical time of the year. Visits with friends and family, presents, good food and the hope of a winter wonderland are just a few of the reasons that many deem this their favorite time of the year. However, for some the holiday season may also include increased triggers and the potential for relapse. For those who are at a higher risk for substance use disorder (SUD) or at risk for relapse, identifying and preparing for holiday relapse triggers can help you enjoy the season wholly and safely.

What is a Trigger?

A trigger can be literally anything – a thought, feeling, object, etc. – that is associated with an addiction. Each person is unique, which includes their triggers. For example, one person might be triggered by driving past their favorite bar, while another is triggered by watching their favorite sports team. Certain emotions – both positive and negative – can also be a trigger.

While the holiday season is full of joy and celebration, it also brings increased stress and the potential for encountering relapse triggers. Here are a few common relapse triggers associated with the holidays that everyone should be aware of.

Common Holiday Relapse Triggers

As we approach the holiday season, there are a few different common holiday relapse triggers to be aware of and prepare in advance for:

  1. Increased stress –We all know those gifts don’t wrap themselves! Holiday celebrations often take a lot of planning, work, and resources. Whether the expectations are set by ourselves or by others, living up to those expectations can cause added stress to our normal routine.
  2. Financial impacts – Surveys over the years have shown that Americans feel added stress when it comes to holiday spending. Gift giving, donating to worthy causes, decorating, and hosting parties – there is a lot of pressure on our checkbooks during the holiday season.
  3. Time management – Even if we love the different events during the holidays, the balancing act of managing them all can feel overwhelming at times.
  4. Mental impacts –Knowing your own mental state going into the holidays is important. It acts as a level setting to know what you can or cannot handle during this time.
  5. Risky Situations – Some holiday celebrations may include alcohol or other substances that can become triggering.
  6. Emotional Situations – With holidays, powerful emotions can come up. Working with a therapist will help you develop coping skills so you can respond to emotions in a healthy way that supports your recovery.

Facing Relapse Triggers

While there are certainly other triggers that can arise, these are among the most common that you may encounter. Working with your treatment team to identify your personal triggers is an important part of recovery.

Even on a day-to-day basis, an individual’s capacity for dealing with relapse triggers varies. The key to maintaining sobriety is to evaluate your capacity for handling those triggers and utilizing the coping mechanisms you learned during treatment.

Advanced Addiction Treatment

If you or a loved one is battling SUD, contact our team at Wellbridge today to discuss treatment. We recognize the increased levels of stress that the holidays bring and want to work with you ahead of time to prepare so that you can enjoy this time of year to the fullest.