By Marianne Wylie, MSW, RSW
It is that time of year! For many people the Holidays season is a time of joy, fun and laughter filled with family gatherings, lots of holiday foods, and celebrations. While many people are looking forward to the holidays, for others, it can be a difficult time where family conflicts and feelings of loneliness arise, or depression and anxiety symptoms worsen. All of these situations can make people vulnerable for relapse on their substance use goals.
This time of year, I often have people who are attending counselling express concern for managing their substance use goals over the holidays or they come back in the new year feeling low about having used/drunk. I wanted to share with you some helpful coping strategies to effectively cope with holiday stresses to prevent relapse on your substance use goals. (Goals can include harm reduction goals like reduced use and abstinence). Preplanning how you will cope with difficult situations or cravings is a key aspect of increasing success over the holidays.
Holiday Relapse Prevention Tips:
If harm reduction is your goal, consider these additional tips:
Finally, if you do find that you have gone against your substance use goal pay attention to your thoughts about it - was it a slip or a relapse? A slip is when you have gone against your goal but you don’t let it get you down. You view it as a learning opportunity for the future and you get right back on your path. A relapse happens when guilt and shame of the use controls how you feel and leads to more use. Having a positive and compassionate view about the use can make it easier for you to get back on track and help you feel better.
Have a safe and enjoyable Holiday Season!
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