From Aurora Behavioral Health Blog


The holiday season is often a joyous time bringing family and friends together, but amidst the excitement, there are often moments of increased stress and anxiety. While this is common for many, it can become a difficult challenge for a person in recovery. Whether you are new in recovery or have been in long-term recovery from drug and/or alcohol addiction, this complex mix of holiday stress can challenge even the best intentions for recovery.

Though the risk of relapse is high during the holidays, it is not inevitable. If you are in recovery, there are steps you can take to stay healthy and safe. Becoming aware of potentially triggering situations and knowing how to prepare for them can help minimize your risk of relapse and allow you to truly enjoy your holiday season.


Focus on Your Health

Eat properly, get enough sleep, exercise regularly. Keep your body well-balanced as well as your mind. Make sure your basic needs are being met.


Stay Away from Unsafe Places

Avoid known risky situations and renvironments. If you are in an unsafe environment for your continued sobriety, have an exit strategy, wherever you are.


Plan Ahead

If you have annual social events coming up, establish if it will be right to attend this year. If not, it’s okay to let the host of the event or those you are going with you may need to leave early.


Bring Your Own Beverages

If you decide you cannot avoid a situation where alcohol will be present, bring your own non-alcoholic beverages to ensure you have something safe for you to enjoy.


Don’t Go Alone

Take a friend, or family member you trust, who can offer support if you need it. They can help make sure you follow through with your plan to leave if things get overwhelming.


Have a Pre-Planned Response

While people may not pay attention to what you consume, some may inquire about your beverage choices. Your sobriety is at your discretion of who you are comfortable sharing that with. If you don’t want to share that, there’s plenty of other reasons why you’re not drinking. If you wish to answer, have a pre-planned response. Simply saying “I’m driving tonight,” or “I need to get up early tomorrow morning” will suffice for those who are not aware of your recovery. If someone persists, and they might, politely refuse their offer once again and move on. It isn’t their business.


Keep Your Triggers in Mind

No matter what stage of recovery you are in, it’s vital to be aware of what your personal triggers are. It’s best to avoid those triggers altogether around this time of year. Be prepared to make difficult decisions and have a way to manage those triggers in the moment.


Make Self-Care a Priority

Always, always consider yourself first. This is not being selfish, it’s self-preservation. Do you really need to go to the holiday office party? Do you have to go to that family gathering? No party or get together is worth risking your sobriety and continued recovery, protect it at all costs.


Be Aware of Available Support

Confiding in others who are also in recovery can help you ease some stress. During the holidays, AA and NA continue to hold meetings, even on Christmas and New Year’s! In fact, many groups have holiday parties where there is food and fellowship. They also have speakers who discuss gratitude and of the real spirit of giving. These meetings can be incredibly helpful and fulfill a sense of community this holiday season.



Aurora Behavioral Health System is here to help if you or a loved one is experiencing mental health difficulties, including addiction. Our caring team of professionals takes a holistic approach and provides psychiatric services and mental health programs for teens and adults. For more information or to schedule a free and confidential mental health assessment, please call our 24/7 admissions line at (877) 870-7012.