Tips for Staying Safe: Avoiding Relapse Triggers at Holiday Parties

The holiday season is synonymous with festive gatherings, but for individuals in recovery, holiday parties can bring specific challenges and relapse triggers. Recognizing and avoiding these triggers is essential for maintaining sobriety during this celebratory time. In this blog, we’ll provide valuable guidance on how to stay safe and protect your recovery journey at holiday parties, whether you’re dealing with stress, peer pressure, or other triggers.

Identifying Common Relapse Triggers

  • Stress: Holiday stress, including the pressure to meet expectations and the financial burden of gift-giving, can be a significant trigger for relapse.
  • Peer Pressure: Being surrounded by friends and family who may not fully understand the challenges of recovery can lead to well-intentioned but harmful peer pressure to join in the drinking or substance use.
  • Old Habits and Memories: The holidays often bring back memories of past substance use or unhealthy coping mechanisms, which can trigger cravings.
  • Social Isolation: Feelings of loneliness or isolation can be exacerbated during the holiday season, making you more vulnerable to relapse.
  • Overwhelming Emotions: The holidays can be an emotionally charged time, with a mix of joy and sorrow. Coping with these intense emotions can be challenging.

10 Tips for Avoiding Relapse Triggers at Holiday Parties

  1. Plan Ahead: Before attending a holiday party, have a clear plan in place. Decide in advance that you will not consume substances.
  2. Communicate Your Boundaries: Let trusted friends and family know about your recovery and the importance of your sobriety. Ask for their support.
  3. Have an Exit Strategy: Be prepared to leave the party if you feel uncomfortable or if you sense that your sobriety is at risk. Have a sober friend or sponsor on standby.
  4. Bring Your Own Drinks: Bring your own non-alcoholic beverages or mocktails to the party so that you have a satisfying alternative to alcohol.
  5. Stay Engaged: Engage in conversations and activities at the party to distract yourself from cravings. Avoid idle time where you might feel more vulnerable.
  6. Lean on Support: Reach out to a support network, sponsor, or therapist if you are struggling with cravings or emotional triggers. They can provide guidance and encouragement.
  7. Practice Mindfulness: Stay present and mindful of your thoughts and feelings. Practice deep breathing or grounding techniques to stay in control.
  8. Choose Your Events Wisely: Be selective about the parties and gatherings you attend. Avoid events where you know substances will be a central focus.
  9. Have an Accountability Partner: Bring a sober friend with you to the party who can help keep you accountable and provide emotional support.
  10. Reflect After the Event: After the party, reflect on your experience, whether it was positive or challenging. Learn from it to better prepare for future gatherings.

Give Yourself the Gift of Sobriety

Navigating holiday parties in recovery requires vigilance, preparation, and a strong commitment to your sobriety. By identifying common relapse triggers, having a plan in place, and seeking support when needed, you can enjoy the holiday season while safeguarding your recovery journey. Remember that your sobriety is a valuable gift you’re giving yourself, and it’s worth protecting. Stay strong, stay safe, and focus on building meaningful connections and joyful moments during this festive time.

JADE Wellness Can Help

JADE Wellness Center has utilized contingency management for over three years by providing salient rewards for treatment adherence.  Contingency management is combined with counseling services and/or medication-assisted treatment programs at JADE Wellness Center. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction to any substance, JADE Wellness is here to help you.  JADE Wellness Center is Pittsburgh’s first comprehensive medication-assisted treatment center, also offering individual and group therapy sessions.  Call us at 412-380-0100 or visit the JADE Wellness Center website to begin your path to recovery.