Holidays in Rehab


The holiday season is a particularly rough time for individuals in treatment and their loved ones. For many who are in treatment during this season , it is a time of intense struggles, filled with feelings about being away from family and friends and managing cravings. Let's call the holiday period "a trigger" time for people who are in treatment. Family members and friends need to be aware of how much additional support their person needs. There may be additional guilt or shame about missing the holidays or affecting the lives of their family. Relapse is common during the holiday season which starts with Thanksgiving as individuals experience stressors in their lives and feelings of loss. Managing feelings to prevent relapse involves the person and those around him or her. Recognition of the what causes the problems is very important to getting through the holiday times.

Some ideas:

  • Avoid leaving treatment during the holidays. There may be intensified cravings or heightened emotional states that the person needs to recognize. Don't give in and discharge. Family members need to be aware of the "come and get me" calls.

  • Stay focused on treatment and work with your therapist to deal with those issues and problems which distract you from treatment.

  • Attend self-help and support groups in the community. Ask your loved ones to attend self-help groups, such as Al-Anon. Increase the number of meetings you attend and work with your sponsor and other supports.

  • Avoid being in places associated with substance abuse. That may mean staying away from people, holiday parties and social events if those environments were places where you "used".

  • If you are dining out with family members and friends, look for restaurants where alcohol is not served.

  • Structure your time with activities which support abstinence and sobriety. Avoid "down time" and long periods which are unstructured.

  • Keep your resource names and telephone numbers handy and call at the first signs of relapse.

 We know the holiday season is a tough time, let's work to keep life on track!

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