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What Causes Relapse Rates to Go Up During the Holidays?

What Causes Relapse Rates to Go Up During the Holidays

The holidays can bring with them a multitude of joyous celebrations, delicious meals with friends and family, and a spike in relapse rates. This time of year is a challenge for many people who struggle to maintain their sobriety or deal with the emotional triggers that come with being home and surrounded by loved ones. This can make it that much harder for individuals who are recovering from addiction and trying to stay on track. 

The challenges of the holidays are compounded by the fact that they tend to be a time when people who struggle with substance use. They may feel more tempted to go back to using drugs or alcohol than at other times of the year. Read on for more information about what causes relapse rates to go up during the holidays, as well as tips for coping should this happen to you.

What is Relapse?

When a person who is in recovery from alcohol or drug addiction goes back to using drugs or alcohol again, they have relapsed. There are many different factors that can affect relapse rates, but during the holidays in particular. Many people who struggle with substance use experience a phenomenon called holiday “spike” or “crash”. This happens when people who are trying to maintain their sobriety feel overwhelmed by added stressors beyond what their coping skills can regulate. This can compound the challenge of staying clean during the holidays by making it harder for people to stay committed to their recovery.

Research Shows That Relapse Rates Are Higher During Holidays

The holiday season is a time when many people feel a greater sense of obligation to their loved ones and may feel the pressure to drink or use drugs in order to fit in or show them that they care. This type of pressure can make it that much more difficult for people who are struggling with substance use to stay clean. In fact, research suggests that holiday “crash” is one of the biggest reasons relapse rates go up during the holidays. When people have this kind of “holiday crash” and feel overwhelmed they may be more likely to relapse than they were during other parts of the year. This can make it harder for people trying to maintain their sobriety during the holidays.

Why Does Relapse Happen?

There are many different factors that can contribute to the risk of relapse during the holidays. 

Holiday “Crash”

Feeling overwhelmed by the holidays and overwhelmed by the responsibilities of maintaining sobriety can lead to a “holiday crash” which is one of the biggest causes of relapse during the holidays. 

Increased Social Pressure to Drink

There is often increased pressure to have a drink or use drugs during the holidays, which can be dangerous for people in recovery. 

Increased Pressure to “Fit In” 

Many people who struggle with substance use experience social pressure to fit in during the holidays, particularly with family members. Sometimes the pressure of living up to expectations can harm the progress a person has made in recovery. This pressure can make it harder for people who are trying to maintain their sobriety during the holidays.

Strategies to Help You Prevent Relapse During the Holidays

Be Aware of Your Triggers

Holiday “crash” is one of the biggest causes of relapse. Healthy coping mechanisms, such as a support network and making sure your support system knows that you are struggling, can help reduce the risk of this happening. 

Keep a Holiday Journal 

Journaling is a great way to process your emotions and self-regulate. You can use a journal to keep you accountable by writing down goals and keeping track of your progress. 

Make Sure to Get Enough Sleep 

Sleep is essential for healthy emotional processing, and it is vital to staying balanced and grounded during the holidays. 

Don’t Beat Yourself Up 

Every relapse is a chance to learn from it. Make sure that you don’t get angry or frustrated with yourself. This can make it that much harder to stay clean. 

Preventing Relapse During the Holidays With a 12-Step Program

The 12-Step program is the best system for helping people who struggle with substance use maintain recovery. There are many benefits to having a sober friend or sponsor. But most importantly, they can help keep you on track and stay committed to your sobriety. A sponsor can be someone who is in established recovery or someone who can help you stay accountable. Having a sponsor can help prevent relapse during the holidays by keeping you grounded in your recovery. They can remind you that you are allowed to feel overwhelmed while maintaining your sobriety. Keeping a journal while you are working through a 12-Step program can help you process your emotions and learn from your mistakes.

Eudaimonia Can Help Keep You on the Path to Recovery

Eudaimonia offers excellent recovery programs with tailored care. In these programs, individuals can develop positive coping skills with the tools necessary to maintain sobriety. Eudaimonia even provides tailored care based on gender and orientation. We also include supervised, short-term housing to provide support for newly sober individuals. But no matter where you are in your recovery, Eudaimonia Sober Living Homes can provide support every step of the way. We have facilities for sober living in Austin, Houston, and Colorado Springs ready to assist you in living your sober lifestyle. Call Eudaimonia Sober Living Homes at (888) 424 – 4029 for more information on the sober living process and current room availability.

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