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Relapse during Christmas and New Year

Discussion in 'Helping an Addicted Friend' started by amethyst, Nov 12, 2014.

  1. amethyst

    amethyst Community Champion

    Sadly, it's during the festive season that many people who are struggling with addictions relapse again. I think that we need to be especially supportive to our vulnerable family and friends during this time of the year and reassure them that it's not unusual to feel an increased craving for a certain substance, or to fall into a black hole of depression. It can happen to all of us, not just to addicts.
    A few years ago I lost a friend who overdosed on heroin on New Year's Eve. It came as a shock as he had been clean for nearly one and a half years. I will never know whether it was an "accident" or deliberate. But what I know is that it's very important to remind everyone again and again to take especially good care of those who have been "touched by substances" around this time of the year.
    What are your experiences?
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2014
  2. mkCampbell

    mkCampbell Active Contributor

    What a great point. I can think of two or three holiday seasons where my longtime friend has gotten out of hand. One ended up in a hospital stay with a broken arm from falling when leaving a party. He had been sober for months. I also had a high school friend commit suicide during the holidays. That was over 20 years ago but it still brings back memories every holiday season.
  3. kevinkimers

    kevinkimers Community Champion

    The holidays are definitely the hardest time when it comes to addictions. There is a lot of stress and sadness during this time of year and a lot of regret to. Those emotions are very big triggers for addicts to relapse. I made a post about what to do if you slip or relapse that may help. Here is a link to the post I made

    http://talk.drugabuse.com/threads/what-to-do-if-you-relapse.485/
    amethyst likes this.
  4. Rainman

    Rainman Community Champion

    It's easy for someone to deceive themselves that they'll be using a substance just once or for only a short period of time. How bad can using it once a year be? If you've been clean for some time, you'd think, that's something you'll snap out of the moment Christmas season is gone and you make a new year's resolution not to touch drugs again.

    But doing drugs even just that one time, draws back the old cravings and one day of usage becomes "just one more day" and unless the recovering addict checks himself/herself on time, they'll find that they're right back where they started.

    What to do? If it's a family member or friend who needs some motivation to fight on, be there for them. Encourage them to fight their cravings one hour at a time and they'll get through Christmas season without touching drugs.
  5. Nick W.

    Nick W. Community Listener Community Listener

    I think that these times of the year offer some unique challenges. From a mental standpoint people tend to get depressed and even suicidal during these times, often when thinking about loss, or family & friends that have fallen away due to abuse and addiction. This can be very hard to cope with, and is why having good coping skills is very important. On the physical side, things like Seasonal Affective Disorder are very real, and offer some physical evidence of why some of these "mental" things happen. Vitamin D, and getting out into the sunlight, even for short periods of time, even when it's cold, is very important to the bodies health, and can help combat depression as well.

    I like taking walks, so I'm always inclined to take "blue" friends out for walks with me, even if that means just parking at the end of the grocery store lot, and getting that extra few minutes of sunlight.
    MrsJones and amethyst like this.
  6. Charli

    Charli Community Champion

    You're right, we really should watch out a bit more during the holidays because there's just too much temptation and not to mention too much pressure to be jolly and happy when we all know how stressful it really is underneath the surface. Most people really do get depressed most during the holidays and it causes them to turn to substances, so we really should make more of an effort to give priority to the people around us instead of the tradition itself because that is the original purpose of those traditions anyway.
  7. LostmySis

    LostmySis Senior Contributor

    Personally, I think support goes further than just talking to keeping the substance away. Why not try to attend special AA/NA meetings with the addict? Try organizing a party/ dance with a DJ that is clean. Organize some sort of games that can be fun and erupt into laughter to get everyone's thoughts off it. Create traditions that involve everyone. My family used to sit around and play Boggle for hours, laughing and cheering at each other's stupidity.
    MrsJones and amethyst like this.
  8. mkCampbell

    mkCampbell Active Contributor

    But with the holidays it seems like the more you reach out the more somebody slips away. Depression would play a huge role in all of this during Christmas and New Years. Triggers during these time must be huge. I'll keep reaching out and hopefully the new year will give my best friend some peace, and by that I mean, feeling good and enjoying life.
    MrsJones likes this.
  9. mkCampbell

    mkCampbell Active Contributor

    Sunlight is huge for me. I'm already counting the days till the spring equinox. I know that sounds like a joke but having it get dark before 5pm is something I hate. I would much rather have a bad day in the sun than a bad day while being cold and with the sun down shortly after 4:30. I'll take you vitamin suggestion.
  10. jeremy2

    jeremy2 Community Champion

    We need to change our mindset that Christmas is a time to overindulge and throw caution to the wind. For many of us, Christmas is synonymous with celebrating and although i agree its the perfect time to be with our families and friends,that's no excuse to abuse drugs under the pretext of having a good time.
  11. amethyst

    amethyst Community Champion

    Yes, I agree, jeremy2, only I can't really see it happening, as we are talking about mass consciousness here. Even if we manage to change our perception in our own home, as soon as we step outside, we are faced with overindulgence and, in some situations, gluttony. It's a bit of a conundrum.
  12. zaerine

    zaerine Community Champion

    It is really necessary to give support especially on those times where temptations are greater. Just like alcoholic beverages that might be overflowing during the holidays, it is possible to celebrate even without alcoholic beverages to avoid tempting a person who is trying to avoid it.
  13. mkCampbell

    mkCampbell Active Contributor

    I agree - It would be a stretch to think that every office party for 20 to 100 or more people plus spouses would go alcohol free just because "Ted" has a drinking problem. I know that's mean but it is reality. On the other hand I know a few office parties that have a drink limit with tickets or something. I know one that has cabs on call. I think people are more aware of things along the lines of drunk driving but as far a mental health and addiction issues there is still a long way to go.
  14. caparica007

    caparica007 Active Contributor

    The festive seasons are "good" for this sort of things to happen, that is why I feel that we can avoid festivities if we are afraid to relapse, just leave festivities for later.
  15. DancingLady

    DancingLady Community Champion

    Christmas is the time I have always witnessed my Aunt drink the most. While she was never really drunk, I know she would sometimes have at least 3 glasses of wine by the end of the night. I know her husband did not like her having that much. Every other time I saw her she would usually only have 1 or 2. Something about celebrating seems to make people want to drink even more. It's so unfortunate because it is dangerous and just reinforces addiction or makes it harder for someone in recovery to avoid drinking when everyone else is doing it.
  16. gmckee1985

    gmckee1985 Senior Contributor

    It's easy for people to relapse at any time, not just the holidays. The holidays are actually a good time to be around those who are addicted. Often times, people turn to drugs and alcohol to fill a void in their lives. It's important to let them know that they are loved and cared for so they don't go back to destructive behaviors.