The holidays are a stressful time for everyone but for addicts, normal holiday stress feels almost impossible to withstand. 20% of people with a mental illness suffer from a co-occupant disorder of substance abuse, and sadly this can come with long-term effects even after sobriety. New Year’s Eve is a massive holiday that in the West is focussed around ‘having a good time’ and for many adults that includes bars, clubs, alcohol, smoke, etc…aka. triggers for addicts. This article is focussed on the top five tips to help addicts get through the holidays, addicts include anything someone is addicted to such as weed, heroin, alcohol, huffing, etc. It can also help if you’re trying to quit nicotine or even coffee. Remember to leave a comment and let me know what you think some of the best tips are for getting through the holidays with an addiction! If you are struggling with an eating disorder please click here to head to the Top 10 Tips to Get Through the Holidays with an ED.

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Percent of people who suffer from Addiction in Canada

Tip #1 – Have an Ally (or Sponsor) in Groups of THREE (3)

The holidays are filled with dinners, drinks, bars, clubs, food, sex, and almost anything that can be considered addicting. If you are trying to get through the holidays with an addiction, it can be hard to get through it alone. Try partnering up with a sober buddy, but remember to stay in groups of 3 sober friends. The reasoning behind this is that if one friend has the urge to use it’s harder to say no, but in groups of 3 there are more options towards making the night a safe one.

Drug Related Deaths / Year in Canada

Tip #2 – “NO” is ALWAYS an option!

When I was struggling with alcohol, even people who knew I was trying to stay sober offered me drinks during the holidays.

“Just one sip of champagne” on New Years Day… “Just one shot” at the club…”Just one beer” at the bar…”Just one drag”…on New Year’s Eve. 

It’s hard to say no when all of these triggers are coming towards you, especially if it’s all week long and some of these people are in the know with your addiction. This is where you have to have a plan in place and you have to stay strong. Remember that ONE sip or ONE drag or ONE of anything can put you back to the very start of addiction and have nasty withdrawal effects. Not to mention, that after having ‘one’ it is much easier to say ‘yes’ to many.

NO is ALWAYS an option! Practice saying ‘no’ by imagining yourself turning down offers to use throughout the holidays successfully (imagery therapy), or practice with a family member, sponsor, friend, or therapist.

Tip #3 – Try Replacement Therapy!

Replacement therapy can be a little bit of a slippery slope, but it can also be very effective. Some replacement therapy includes having a cigarette rather than a joint (for people in the beginning of their sobriety) but it also includes orange juice for a sangria, or an E-Ciggerette with no nicotine, tea for coffee, exercise for sex, talking for using, the list goes on and on. I challenge you this season to replace your favourite ‘trigger spot‘ such as a bar or someone’s house, with something that supports your journey, such as bowling or hanging out with family.

Tip #4 – Avoid Trigger Hangouts

A trigger hangout can include a bar, nightclub, beach, using spot, friends house, street, car, etc. etc. Try to avoid the spaces you have used in, places where it is easy to use again, and people you have used with. The brain has subconscious triggers with scenery and situations which increase the likelihood of using due to the memory pattern created beforehand. These patterns are possible to break with visual therapy but it is best to avoid these areas on especially triggering holidays.

Tip #5 – Addiction is a disease and it’s NOT ‘cool’ or ‘fun’!

Remember ‘hugs not drugs’ or the newer one ‘pugs not drugs’? Perhaps the ‘RACE Against Drugs’ trip in elementary school? I hate to admit it but these extremely tedious, boring, and annoying assemblies had great reason. And yes, the friend who sat next to you and whispered about how they want to or has done different types of drugs to prove as a point for social status is an idiot. Addiction is a disease, many people seem to forget this on holidays, especially with the pop culture of drugs and alcohol creating a ‘better’ experience. People die every day from addiction, lose their jobs, become incarcerated, develop psychosis, Alzheimer’s, and multiple types of disabilities that usually end up in hospital, jail, or death. If you are prone to addiction, have struggled with ANY type of addiction, or are worried for your own safety around substances, please take your sobriety seriously, and the people who don’t respect your amazing goal don’t get to hug pugs.

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Possibility to Recover from Addiction

If you are not at the point of sobriety and have to use this holiday, please go to a local Safe Injection Site (SIS). These are not available in every country, it’s actually a rare occurrence. So, if you are near one that is legalized please take advantage of this amazing site. These sites help avoid overdose by allowing injection with medical supervision. You will not be charged by the police, it is completely free and legal. You have to bring your own substance to use and will be provided with sterile injection supplies which helps prevent the spread of diseases. These sites save lives daily, and always have recovery information available.

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