What If Holiday Rejoicing Turns into Relapse?

By | Relapse Prevention, Tis the Season | No Comments

By Toshia C. Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.

Though we don’t need to focus our energy on fear or the what if’s, it is always wise to practice the old adage, hope for the best, and prepare for the worst. In other words, just as businesses, schools and many families have fire and natural disaster drills, so that each person is aware of the protocol during an unfortunate crisis situation, we—in recovery—must also avoid panic and further damage by being prepared for relapse.

Relapse is typically considered a part of recovery. That common perspective does not merely apply to addiction. It is used in regard to every aspect of the word, whether mental, emotional, spiritual or physical. Of course, we—as addiction professionals and recovering addicts—see addiction as a holistic disease. As such, so is a successful recovery process. But, because it is all-encompassing, relapse requires so much more than another trip to detox.

Consequently and generally speaking, many professionals recommend detox and a repeat of residential treatment, following relapse. However, new innovations and research in addiction treatment and recovery have evolved and improved the continuum of care. The latter now includes Intensive Outpatient Programs, or IOPs, which are specifically designed to provide renewed recovery to addicts who have recently relapsed.

Intensive Outpatient Programs are gaining popularity throughout the nation. Additionally, they are proving successful. One such IOP has been recently established in Lubbock, Texas as an addition to the ever-evolving Lubbock addiction services.

Stages of Recovery, Inc.—a Lubbock drug treatment corporation—has designed a program suitable for any active addict in need of recovery. However, it was created specifically with recovering addicts who relapse in mind. Holistic components—such as life skills education and training, individual and group counseling, sober living and recovery community referrals and access, meal accommodations and more—provide recovering addicts with everything they need to achieve successful recovery. And, with regard to those who have recently relapsed, the road back to recovery is made easier, more affordable and convenient through the IOP, as opposed to a repeat of residential treatment.

For more information, to get help with your addiction or seek renewed recovery following a relapse, call Stages of Recovery’s hotline: 1-844-6-GETHELP. And, in an effort to stay prepared this holiday season and throughout the year, add the number to your list of crisis contacts.

Avoiding Relapse during Religious (and Hallmark) Holidays

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By Toshia C. Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.

The holiday season can wreak emotional havoc and challenge the sanity of everyone, regardless of a pre-existing mental illness. So, of course, it brings about significant challenges for those of us in recovery. In fact, a great deal of relapse occurs during religious (and Hallmark) holidays. As such, it is important for us to take steps to avoid trading in Santa Claus for Santa “Cause.”

There are 5 important life skills to remember and employ during the holiday season to assist in avoiding relapse:

  • Clear and effective communication—speak your needs, clearly and concisely
  • Conflict resolution—work to resolve conflict, rather than avoiding it
  • Setting personal boundaries—protect yourself and your recovery by setting and keeping emotional (and physical, if necessary) boundaries
  • Respecting other’s boundaries—be respectful of any boundaries set by others, even if they seem absurd
  • Careful confrontation—employ gently confrontation to hold others accountable, using assertive behavior rather than aggression.

Additionally, during the holiday season, it is important for those of us in recovery to increase our daily recovery efforts, in the same way athletes might expand their training in an effort to counteract the holiday indulgence. There are 5 important aspects of recovery we must strengthen to avoid relapse:

  • Contact with recovery community—remain in contact with individuals within your recovery community throughout the holiday season
  • Recovery meetings—attend recovery meetings, as usual, and increase attendance, if necessary, through the holidays
  • Communication with a sponsor—maintain communication with your sponsor, and express your concerns, fears, and other difficult emotions and needs regarding the holiday season
  • Group meetings—attend group meetings, as usual, and communicate with group facilitators about holiday group meeting schedules and opportunities
  • Individual counseling—attend individual counseling sessions, and request the opportunity to meet or communicate with your counselor throughout the holiday season

Religious (and Hallmark) holidays can surface unresolved issues. For those of us who are survivors of religious abuse, these holidays can overwhelm and exhaust us. But, rather than allowing these to become causes—or excuses—for relapse, we must see them as cues for further advancement in our own recovery process. Remember, relapse begins in the mind. As such, self-awareness is vital to successful recovery, especially during the holiday season.

Don’t Fall Back – A Reminder to Stay Proactive During the Fall Season

By | Relapse Prevention | No Comments

By Toshia C. Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.

Fall is typically considered a festive time of year. This explains why most people get excited about the season. However, many of us are familiar with a different feeling—the darker experience of Fall. It brings about holiday parties and events, most involving alcohol and drugs, Thanksgiving and the expectation of family gatherings; a reality some of us may not have or necessarily enjoy. For these and many other reasons, Fall can present the onset of many uncomfortable emotions and, for those of us in recovery, a need for deeper connections with our sponsors, counselors and sober communities.

Whether it is Parents Day at the university, college football games, Halloween parties and festivities, Thanksgiving or the preparation for Christmas and other religious and family-oriented holidays that brings about added stress, being proactive is key. Why? Because mixed emotions, potentially difficult situations, unresolved issues, surfacing repressed emotions, grief over lost loved ones including alcohol and/or drugs, etc. are perfect catalysts for relapse, if we are not responsible in our recovery.

Responsibility in recovery is about realizing none of these aspects of our lives are reason for relapse. Conversely, they are reason to dig deeper into our personal recovery. We must stay connected with our sober community, contact our sponsors, counselors and/or recovery coaches as often as possible, and not only when we think it is needed. Additionally, we should hold others accountable and constantly reach out—especially to those who are new to recovery—keeping the very real threat of relapse and suicide in the back of our minds.

We are addicts. We must take that very seriously throughout the year and be responsible in our recovery regardless of season. But like a diabetic must prepare for and take added steps to prevent issues resulting from sugar-intake during the candy- and dessert-laden holiday season, we must also be aware and proactive with our disease. If we are not, Fall could easily earn literary irony by presenting so many potential stumbling blocks. However, with personal accountability it could also be the catalyst for a deeper connection and stronger commitment to our recovery.

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