Navigating Recovery Around the Holidays

Navigating recovery around the holidays can be particularly challenging, especially if you are expected to participate in holiday parties and family get-togethers that demand much of your time and energy. 

Challenges to Recovery around the Holidays

Staying sober during the holidays isn’t challenging just because holiday parties often center around alcohol consumption. This time of year brings with it stresses and triggers like:

  • A lot of unhealthy food items on the menu that may not be a part of your normal diet
  • Travel and gift expectations that can strain your finances
  • Fights between family members

Challenges to staying sober during holidays will be different for everyone, but they all have the same root: stress. So, how do you avoid pressure and stress or anxiety from problems like canceled airline flights, long drives, expectations to drink, peer pressure, or issues of loneliness, depression, or even anxiety?

Tips for Staying Sober during Holidays

There are several things that you can do to help you navigate your recovery during the holidays.

Plan Ahead

One of the best things you can do for yourself during the holiday season is to plan ahead. Planning ahead can take various forms and helps you in many ways:

  • You can plan to go to a 12-step meeting before you attend a holiday party, especially if you’re worried about alcohol consumption, or you can invite a friend to go with you ahead of time so that you can walk into the room confidently.
  • You can make plans to limit the time you spend in stressful situations that might be triggering to you or time around family members who might be triggering to you.
  • You can prepare extra time for self-care routines, such as arriving 30 minutes early to a party so that you have time to meditate in your car or walk around the neighborhood to work out your nerves.
  • You can make alternative plans, such as hosting sober parties at your house or bringing alcohol-free beverages to events you attend.

Know Your Triggers

You won’t be able to avoid triggers. It’s as simple as that. The holidays are the same as any other time: you will struggle with triggers, but it’s best if you know what they are so that you can combat them with proper coping skills.

Staying sober during holidays requires the same level of self-care, emotional management, and reflection as any other time of year. It’s up to you to use any coping mechanisms that you prefer:

  • Journaling can be an effective way to process your emotions, especially if you are unaware of all of your triggers. By writing down how you feel when engaging with other people or after a social event, you can track the source or cause of those feelings and develop a deeper understanding of your personal triggers.
  • Meditation can be a useful coping skill to use in the moment you are triggered. Mindfulness and meditation can help you remain calm in the face of someone who doesn’t understand addiction and is trying to pressure you to drink or a family fight that is causing unnecessary stress.
  • Exercise might be a great way to manage holiday-related stress. Yoga can help calm you, or heavy weightlifting sessions at a gym may help you burn off some energy. 
  • At the same time, you might consider investing more heavily in healthy meals at home and eating before you attend events, even if they serve food there. This can help you manage nutritional factors like sugar intake, which can interfere with cortisol levels and sleep quality, making it more likely that you will succumb to the pressure of stress. 

Get Help 

If you are struggling, don’t be afraid to get help. Help can be:

  • Having a friend or family member accompany you to holiday events
  • Going to extra NA or AA meetings or other support group meetings
  • Scheduling individual group therapy
  • Attending residential rehab centers like Liberty House

If you are worried about navigating your sobriety during the holidays, it might be an ideal time to get professional treatment. With Liberty House, clients can find the support they need through comprehensive, holistic care even during the holidays. Our luxury drug and alcohol rehab in Michigan offers comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment and addiction aftercare

If you are dealing with recovery during the holidays, particularly your first or second year in recovery, there can be many challenges, triggers, and stresses. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries, say no to things that might be particularly stressful, and practice coping mechanisms when necessary. If you need help, reach out to our team to learn more about our residential programs and aftercare planning.

Contact Liberty House today to get help with recovery.

Self-Compassion Practices for Dual Diagnosis

In a dual diagnosis treatment plan, you can receive therapy and treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders and substance abuse. Part of that treatment may include self-compassion, where you learn to shift your focus away from obsessing over things that you’ve done in the past or things you aren’t happy with and focus instead on the important realities of who you are today and how you can make healthy choices to improve your life moving forward.

Effectiveness of Self-Compassion for Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Self-compassion practices for dual diagnosis treatment can be used for individuals struggling with:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • PTSD
  • Borderline personality disorder

Clinical samples of people with psychopathological symptoms have found that low self-compassion is often an issue across all mental health disorders, ages, genders, and other demographics. However, high self-compassion is an essential element in preventing the reappearance of several symptoms of mental health disorders.

A study also found that the risk of substance abuse disorder is inverse to self-compassion and that increasing self-compassion could be helpful to prevent substance abuse and could be practiced in substance abuse treatment.

Self-Compassion Practices for Dual Diagnosis

Self-compassion is when you treat yourself with kindness, particularly in times of need. There are several practices for dual diagnosis, but self-compassion practices effectively revolve around the concept of treating yourself the way you would a loved one.

Let’s look at an example:

Lynn struggles with chronic pain and depression. She previously turned to prescription opioids to manage her pain, but this led to an addiction.

Now, when Lynn is experiencing a low pain day, she tends to do too much. She tries to check everything off her to-do list at home and ends up exhausted. Draining her resources, when Lynn wakes up the next day, she feels even worse, so she can’t do anything, let alone her basic tasks.

This cycle exacerbates feelings of depression in Lynn, and she is constantly berating herself for not having more energy and comparing her current pain levels to what she had the day before. During these episodes, Lynn struggles with a lot of guilt over the time she wasted in the past, not being as productive as the day prior despite high pain. She feels like quitting and thinks back on how much easier life was when she took opioids on high-pain days.

Using Self-Compassion

In Lynn’s example above, she experiences a common cycle among clients with chronic pain, but it’s an equally common cycle among clients who don’t practice self-compassion. 

So, how do you use self-compassion practices?

  • Individual therapy can teach you to take an honest look at yourself
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you look at the bigger picture and recognize which behaviors you want to change
  • Mindfulness can help you shift your attitude toward struggle or failure and change your internal responses to those from a more compassionate place, the same as you would toward a loved one

With a residential treatment program for dual diagnosis self-compassion therapy, Lynn might learn that when she experiences these cycles, her automatic thoughts are something to the effect of “You are so worthless. What is wrong with you that you can’t even get up and clean the dishes in the sink?”  instead of what she would say to her best friend in a time of need, which would be something like, “This is fine. You did a lot of stuff yesterday, and you’re in high pain today. You’re not expected to be overly productive every day. Cut yourself some slack. You are loved.”

Holistic Treatment at Liberty House Recovery Center

At Liberty House, our dual diagnosis center in Michigan provides clients with several holistic, person-centered approaches to healing. Our goal is to heal the mind and body simultaneously, and that can’t happen until you’ve learned to forgive yourself and exercise self-compassion. 

Overall, when you’ve struggled with addiction, it’s very easy to be hard on yourself, especially when things are challenging or when you want to quit or experience a relapse. You might feel guilty about what you’ve done or struggle to move forward with emotional healing because you haven’t forgiven yourself or others. Self-compassion practices for dual diagnosis clients provide a useful tool to overcome these issues.

Our Michigan drug treatment centers offer comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment. Call our team today to learn more about self-compassion in our dual diagnosis programs.

Developing a Supportive Social Circle

Investing heavily in developing a social support structure is essential immediately after recovery. Having a community of people helps to prevent isolation, a struggle that commonly leads to relapse in the early stages of recovery.

Social circles should involve support groups. Support groups serve as networks to help you open up and be supported by like-minded individuals so that you stay on the right track.

Your social circle might include access to peer support, therapy, and medical support. Having people you can turn to for moral support or help getting a ride to and from an appointment can make completing all of the essential elements in your recovery easier.

Liberty House Recovery is a luxury drug and alcohol rehab center in Michigan. Contact us today to learn more about how our Michigan drug treatment center can help.

Types of Social Support in Recovery

There are several types of social support you can build while in recovery.

Having Someone to Offer Tangible Support

When you leave a residential treatment program, you might have to transition back to a life where the ramifications of drug addiction are still present, such as:

  • Not having stable housing
  • Being unemployed
  • Having strained relationships
  • Not having money
  • Not having a license or a car

You will inevitably face several setbacks along the way as you return to your community environment and not only contend with triggers and challenges that were left behind but these tangible issues like not having a job and not having a license or a car so that you could drive to a new job. 

When you have a support circle, you have people you can bounce ideas off of and people who can offer tangible support.

  • Maybe someone in your support circle can help you look up community bus schedules and find out where all the relevant stops are for areas where you are looking for a job or where you want to go back to school
  • Maybe someone in your support circle can help drive you to places like the DMV and stay with you while you make an appointment to renew your driver’s license
  • Maybe a family member who is a part of your support circle can help you by providing a stable living environment while you transition
  • Maybe someone close to you can help you find a used car, find temporary work, or offer financial support when getting a loan 

Having Someone to Call

It’s important to have a friend or family member that you can just call when you need to talk or when you want to participate in a sober activity.

You never know when you might deal with:

  • A flashback or a recall of a particularly painful struggle
  • A time when you hurt your family
  • Need to get advice on how to manage a current relationship
  • Need to talk about a job problem

In recovery, you might still struggle with keeping a regular schedule, so this person could be someone who is available when you are often awake or someone who doesn’t mind you calling late at night or in the morning.

Having Someone from a Support Group

That person you can call to meet with you or talk with you might not be the same person you have from a support group. They could very well be someone who’s never experienced addiction.

If that’s the case, having someone from your support group is also important as part of your social support and recovery. When developing a support social circle, someone in your network who has a background in addiction can better empathize with unique experiences, struggles, or thoughts that a supportive friend or family simply might not be able to do.

Having a Mentor

Similarly, you want a mentor, possibly from a support group or possibly someone you meet elsewhere. That mentor should be someone who has experience and can offer something more than moral support.

If you are struggling, or if you need help finding a job, or you decide you want to go back to school, your mentor should be someone who can help you facilitate those decisions or, at the very least, connect you to someone who can.

Liberty House’s Alumni Group

When developing a support social circle, one of the easiest ways to find social support and recovery is to participate in alumni activities. Alumni programs and aftercare programs provide a chance to meet with other people who have gone through the same type of treatment plan or who have transitioned into recovery themselves. 

Aftercare with Liberty House

Liberty House is committed to providing strong aftercare benefits to help maintain long-term sobriety. This type of transition occurs immediately after completing your treatment program, and it provides assistance with social support in recovery so that you don’t have lapses in support or care during a critical transition time frame.

We offer relapse prevention programs which serve as a key component to creating a supportive and comfortable atmosphere conducive to developing a support social circle of other people who can speak openly about:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Struggles
  • Feelings
  • Triggers
  • Temptations
  • Cravings

Overall, recovering from addiction is a lifelong process, and when you return to your regular environment in the early stages of recovery, having a strong and stable support circle around you can help you maintain your sobriety.

Call us today to learn how we set you up for success with our alumni and aftercare programs.