From family gatherings, and increased exposure to drug and alcohol consumption, to a lack of routine and the ‘it’s Christmas’ excuse, relapse risks are heightened throughout the festive period, making it a time of dread for recovering addicts and their families.

While easier said than done, it’s however recommended that recovering addicts or those struggling with their mental health, see Christmas as any other time of year.

A proactive plan should be in place, routines should be maintained as much as possible, and connecting with motivations to staying sober are recommended. By doing so, a highly chaotic, whirlwind period can be controlled and worked through, helping to maintain your intentions of sober living, no matter the time of year.

If you’re struggling throughout the festive period, at Asana lodge, we are here to help you. Here’s the realism of and our take on addiction and the festive period – tips to staying sober. We hope that pre-Christmas planning can help you control your cravings, while also having the potential to enjoy the festive period.

While Christmas may have been a negative time for you, while the risk of relapse may be heightened, working through to the New Year is possible, helping you embrace the progress that you’ve made this far.


Addiction struggles linked to the festive period

There are many reasons why Christmas and the festive period that it influences can make life hard for recovering addicts.

For some, the festive period may in fact have motivated their initial consumption, turning it into an addiction. With this in mind, it can be a vulnerable time to revisit, heightening risks of relapse, even before drug and alcohol exposure are experienced.

For others, greater exposure to social situations, to sadness, to isolation, to family feuds, and to drug and alcohol consumption act as triggers, again making it hard to maintain addiction recovery steps.

It’s also important to remember that addiction recovery thrives greater through the routine. The festive period is one of the only times of year where a pause of routine is acceptable. By allowing for routine to slip, where eating habits are aggravated, where a lack of sleep is likely, or where self-care is at the bottom of the list, the greater susceptibility of drug and alcohol abuse will be present for recovering addicts.

The above, along with reduced resources and support groups, down to the busy time of year makes it understandable as to why so many recovering addicts worry about the festive period and the risk that it poses.

Yet, like everyone else, they deserve to celebrate, especially their progression in this matter. To help you through this time, here’s an overview of addiction and the festive period – tips to staying sober, to benefit your current reality, and future.


Addiction and the festive period – tips to staying sober this Christmas

Sustaining addiction recovery, this far, maybe manageable for you. You may have got into a routine which has significantly minimised risks of relapse. However, relapse at Christmas is much more likely than any other time of year, down to the above influences.

So, if you’re wondering how to stay sober, throughout the festive period, it’s important that you maintain your current efforts, and then some. The festive period is a highly influential time, which without control, can deter your long-term recovery capabilities.

Yet, by seeing it as any other period, by following our tips to staying sober, and by embracing the benefits of sober living, you can conquer the challenges of addiction and the festive period.

Understand your triggers:
Everyone’s triggers are different when considering the fuelling of an addiction. It is important that you understand your own, as they may be heightened throughout the festive period.

For example, if social situations are linked to the development and intensity of your drug and alcohol consumption, greater exposure to social events throughout Christmas will be seen as a high-risk situation.

Reduce exposure to your triggers:
Once you understand your triggers, it’s time to reduce your exposure levels, helping you sustain sobriety. Understandably, this is easier said than done.

Yet, by considering your environments, your plans, your relationships and your lifestyle choices, you can adapt them to help improve your experience with staying sober throughout a drug and alcohol-fuelled time of year.

Keep busy:
Keeping busy by participating in positive activities is recommended. Fill your time with exercising, seeing loved ones and partaking in activities which help you cope through mental health issues, cravings or negative thoughts.

Set a plan for your free time:
Planning the extra time that you may not usually have is very important. Start by planning out your days throughout the festive period, around your responsibilities, including work, childcare or even support group sessions. From here, look to keep up a routine to ensure that you can remain on track, psychologically.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle:
Once lifestyle slips, relapse risks are much greater. This will be down to the fact that a routine can protect individuals against drug and alcohol exposure. Yet, once that routine is paused, it can be difficult to avoid disruptive and unpredictable encounters of drugs and alcohol. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, focusing on your sleep, movement and diet will be recommended, ultimately devaluing the place that drugs and alcohol will have in your life.

Disable the presence of drugs or alcohol in your home:
Drug and alcohol consumption substantially increase over the festive period. Disabling the presence of drugs and alcohol in your home will be worthwhile, no matter the feuds that this choice may cause. Keeping drugs or alcohol in your home will boost accessibility in times of need, making it a highly discouraging decision.

Practice self-care:
Staying sober is all about prioritising your needs and emotions. Self-care is a great way to help you prioritise yourself over others. The festive period is highly chaotic with traditional expectations. Make new traditions if it means that you can practice self-care.

Use your relapse prevention plan:
If you do experience any cravings, utilising your relapse prevention plan will be recommended. Here you’ll have steps to take if you are exposed to drugs and alcohol, experience an inclination to consume, or ultimately need guidance throughout the festive period.

Lean on family and friends:
Understandable, for some, a support network is lacking. Through this time of year, leaning on those you can trust is recommended.

Whether that’s family members or friends, or even professionals, having support will ease the festive period for you. Communicating your plans to staying sober is also encouraged, providing you with backing if uncontrollable exposure is experienced.

Embrace each sober day
Celebrating and embracing each sober day is recommended, helping you see Christmas as a countdown. By working through the countdown, you’ll soon be out the other end of the festive period, where routine and the norm reverts.


Sobriety support here at Asana Lodge

Finding the right tips to control the relationship between addiction and the festive period is recommended. They should be personal to you, helping you personally remain sober.

However, if you are struggling, sobriety support is available at Asana Lodge, helping you through initial recovery, straight through to times like Christmas.

If you’re still hoping for insight and support into addiction and the festive period – tips to staying sober, reach out today.

We can help you enjoy this Christmas, without the negative presence of drugs and alcohol. It’s time to celebrate both sober living and the festive period this December.


Raffa Bari - Author - Last Updated: 18 December 2020

Raffa Bari (Bsc, CertEd, CELTA, NLP Prac, BAAT) has an extensive background in addiction recovery, specialising in areas such as Integrative Art Psychotherapy (BAAT Registered) for addiction treatment.

Using her incredible dedication and passion towards personal transformation and recovery, Raffa has helped truly transform the lives of so many individuals.

It is this extensive knowledge and hands-on experience in everything to do with addiction recovery that makes her the perfect author for our site.

Raffa will be posting regularly with new updates and information on the latest industry topics to do with addiction and mental health.

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