Seven Steps to Creating A Holiday Relapse Prevention Plan

Seven Steps to Creating A Holiday Relapse Prevention Plan

The holiday season is usually filled with cheerful traditions, time spent with family, and lots of yummy food, however, for those in recovery, the idea of facing these without the buffer of drugs or alcohol can be very stressful or overwhelming.  To best prepare for whatever the holidays throw at you, develop a plan you can use to prevent a relapse.  

The Importance of Planning Ahead To Cope with Stress and Triggers

Planning ahead to cope with stress and triggers is your best bet to combat the risk of relapsing and have a happy, healthy holiday with loved ones.  You’ve worked hard to achieve recovery, so take the time you need to prepare for difficult situations in case they arise.  Some things to consider when developing your plan include:

  • Who will be at the get together?  Will there be people there that you may still have a strained relationship with? Are there going to be people there that support and encourage your recovery?
  • What will you do or say if someone offers you a drink?
  • What are your specific relapse triggers and what is your plan if you are struggling?
  • Is the get together in a place you feel comfortable?
  • Is there someone there you can speak with if you’re struggling or who will you call if your support system is not present?

7 Steps to Making Your Own Relapse Plan This Holiday Season 

  1. Avoid situations that may compromise your recovery.  Unfortunately, the holidays have become synonymous with drinking which can be triggering in its own right.  If your family is big on drinking and you don’t feel ready to be around that, it is perfectly okay to sit this one out.  Chances are your friends and family don’t want to do anything to jeopardize your recovery, so they will more than likely be understanding of your concerns and supportive of your decision. 
  2. Be comfortable with the idea of saying “no.”  This does not simply mean to drugs and alcohol, this should extend to any situation or person that compromises your recovery.  Your sobriety should be of utmost importance to you and those who love you, and you should be willing to do anything you can to protect it.  
  3. Be aware of the range of emotions the holidays can bring up.  Buying gifts on a tight budget, seeing family you haven’t seen in a while, the death of loved ones, and being exposed to triggers can result in painful emotions that were once numbed with drugs or alcohol.  Learning to cope with this pain and knowing how you will react if presented with them will make dealing with them in real-time more manageable.  
  4. Have a reliable support system.  You have likely met people on your road to recovery that has become like family to you, so use their support!  Attending AA/NA meetings prior to your holiday event may also be helpful in renewing your sense of purpose and helping you avoid temptations.  Maybe you have trusted family members that have been very supportive throughout your recovery, they are also great resources during this time.
  5. Start new traditions!  Think of what the ideal holiday looks like to you in recovery, and suggest new traditions for your family to enjoy.
  6. Take care of yourself.  Self-care not only makes us feel good, but it does wonders for our emotional and physical health.  Take the time to make yourself a priority so you can be prepared for whatever life throws at you.
  7. Renew your sense of holiday spirit.  Despite what is portrayed in movies, the holidays are about spreading cheer and spending time with those you love.  Spending time volunteering or doing something nice for someone can re-energize your love for the holidays and make you feel good at the same time!

For more information about developing a relapse prevention plan, call the treatment specialists at The Source today at (800)204-0418 or visit them online at