Some consider this to be the most wonderful time of the year. But for anyone recovering from an addiction disorder, the holiday season can be a difficult time to stay sober.
“The holidays can be very stressful for any of us, but particularly if people are in recovery or early recovery,” says Dr. Delaney Smith. She is the medical director for the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County or ADAMH.
Dr. Smith says people in recovery have a higher risk for relapsing during the holidays, especially when they’re in the early stages.
“Often times, those individuals also have a lot of issues with their mental health because they’re dealing with this recovery, they’re also dealing at the same time with what it was that drove then to use in the first place,” Dr. Smith told 10TV.
One way to prepare themselves for this season of celebration is to stay in contact with a sponsor or counselor. During a group session at The Peer Center, several people in recovery met to talk about the holidays and ways to stay on track and avoid situations that may challenge their sobriety.
The Peer Center on W. Broad Street in Columbus is a safe place that supports recovery in mental health, addiction and trauma.
“It’s gonna be stressful, especially if you’re an alcoholic or a drug addict or anything in that nature,” says group member Ricardo.
Everyone who works at The Peer Center has what they call “lived” experience. They get it because they’ve lived it. They can use personal experience to help others navigate their way through the social, financial and family stressors of the holidays.
“Being back around people that they maybe hurt and they haven’t yet had a change to make amends with, begin back in situations that might be triggering for them,” says Dr. Smith. “Those can all be very stressful for someone in recovery.”
“I don’t go to holiday events and parties. I stay home and bake cookies and take them to the police station and fire stations for first responders who have to work on Christmas,” says group member Corrine.
According to Dr. Smith, preparing ahead of time and avoiding places where drugs or alcohol may be is the best way to safeguard your sobriety during this time of year.