It is not unusual for a drug addict to recognize that drug use is harming their health, relationships and life, and desire to be free from these substances. However, perhaps one of the most irritating things they can be asked by others is, “Why don’t you just quit?” The reality is that drug addiction is not something the individual chooses to participate in, and neither is it something the individual can simply choose to end. Full recovery from drug addiction is a long and difficult journey, and it includes addressing and resolving every single physical, mental and emotional cause and effect of drug use so that the individual can confidently move forward into a better, healthier future. And while many individuals have successfully made this journey, there is no arguing that certain things can make it fairly tough–including the holiday season.
Holiday Challenges that Addicts Must Face
The holiday season can be filled with many different urges and cravings that an individual in recovery will have to overcome. Considering that many addicts turned to drugs as a way to deal with stress and problems in their life, the stresses and pressures of the holiday season can be particularly difficult to deal with. Not only must the individual work through these challenges, but they must do so while simultaneously fighting the urge to turn to the “easy” solution of drug use. And then there are the endless parties and celebrations.
Holiday parties have a tendency to condone and encourage excess in general–including excessive food and drink consumption. Since it is not unusual for a drug addict to excuse their drug use by arguing that “everyone” does it and they’re obviously okay, excessive alcohol consumption during holiday parties can make them feel that it would be perfectly acceptable to relapse into some drug use. Of course, this can quickly snowball into full-blown drug abuse and addiction again, dragging the individual back to the very beginning of their already long and tedious journey to recovery.
Overcoming Holiday Challenges
Fortunately, the holiday season does not have to be detrimental to one’s full and successful recovery from drug addiction. In fact, regardless of when an individual chooses to start on the path to long-term sobriety, there are a few basic things they need to do: make a firm commitment to their abstinence and recovery, make any needed lifestyle changes that will support their commitment, and decide how they will effectively deal with urges and cravings.
The first point, where the individual commits to their abstinence and recovery, is easily one of the most important decisions he can make. It has actually been consistently demonstrated that those individuals who have the most success with achieving and maintaining long-term sobriety are those individuals who are seeking to recover for self–not because others told them they had to. An individual who is entirely committed to their recovery is often far more willing and able to overcome the challenges they encounter along the way–no matter what these challenges may be.
The second point, making lifestyle changes, is also very important as it will pull the individual out of normal routines and patterns that became a comfortable part of their drug use. However, shifting these patterns and routines does not automatically make the individual entirely immune to all relapse triggers they may be faced with, which is why they must also come up with a plan for how to deal with urges and cravings when they encounter them. This could be as simple as walking away from a sensitive situation or ensuring that one always has a sober, supportive friend by their side. It could also mean that one simply needs to decide whether certain holiday celebrations and gatherings are truly the best choices for them. One can consider what the event is about, whether it’s appropriate to attend in one’s stage of recovery, and what their real motives are for attending. If one does decide to attend, they may want to consider bringing a sober friend, and alternative, non-alcoholic beverages. It is also important to have an exit strategy that is not dependent upon any other guest (which can pin one down past their point of safe endurance) and make sure that one only remains for as long as they feel it is a comfortable and purposeful visit.
An addict in recovery may also choose to host their own get-together, keeping it an entirely sober occasion and inviting those friends who are also sober and supportive. This can be a wonderful way to remind one of the joys of the holiday season, which are entirely independent of any alcohol or drug consumption. The most important thing to bear in mind is that it is one’s own choice and decision that can ensure their stable recovery, even during the holiday season, and that surrounding one with friends and family who are entirely supportive of this journey can help to ensure that one reaches their goals.