Man looking out the window, wearing a red sweater in front of a Christmas tree

How to Support Your Sobriety in the New Year

Continuing Your Sobriety into the New Year

With the holiday festivities and excitement coming to an end, the beginning of a new year can be a particularly rough time—especially for those struggling with substance abuse and addiction. While you may feel like something is missing and feel tempted to return to unhealthy coping mechanisms, there are plenty of ways to get through this transitional period with your sobriety in mind.

Identifying Signs of Drug Addiction

The first step in moving toward a sober lifestyle is identifying that there is a problem in the first place. When it comes to alcohol and drug addiction, there are physical and behavioral changes that may suggest a problem.

Withdrawal Symptoms

You may find yourself taking a step back from your alcohol or drug-use habits, deciding to cut back or even to stop all together. But if you start to feel adverse effects after you do, you could be suffering from withdrawal symptoms.

When it comes to drug abuse and addiction, when you abruptly stop drug-use, a person who is addicted to drugs will experience physical symptoms called withdrawal. These symptoms typically include:

  • Shakiness and tremors
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Seizures

In more severe cases of drug addiction, going through withdrawals can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.

Behavioral Changes

Drug and alcohol addiction can also cause changes in your behavior. Although these sudden behavioral changes coincide with other mental health issues, here are some of the most commonly observed behavioral patterns displayed by addicts:

  • Declining performance at work or in school
  • Increased secrecy and need for privacy
  • Decreased interest in personal hygiene
  • Wearing soiled clothing
  • Disinterest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Appearing withdrawn from relationships
  • Spending more money than usual
  • Having more or less money than usual
  • Defensiveness or denial when confronted
  • Lack of energy
  • Changes in appetite

Understanding Addiction Relapse Triggers

What is Relapse?

When navigating the road to recovery and wellness, it isn’t uncommon for those struggling with addiction to return to alcohol or drug use. When the affected person does return to using, it is called relapsing.

While it can be a shameful experience, leaving you feeling alone, it happens more often than you think. About half (40-60%) of those struggling with addiction relapse following treatment.

Reasons for Relapse

Although there are many different reason people feel compelled to return to drug and alcohol abuse after finishing treatment, here are a few of the most common reasons for relapsing:

  • High stress levels
  • Distressing emotions like anxiety and depression
  • Overconfidence in sobriety and control
  • Being around others who are using

What is a Trigger?

A trigger is a social, psychological, or emotional situation that compels an addicted person to seek their drug of choice, resulting in relapse. While triggers may seem like they only stem from negative experiences, positive events can trigger a relapse as well.

External Triggers

An external trigger is an environmental situation or event that makes you want to use drugs or alcohol. Whether it’s a specific event, a change in responsibilities, or even being in a specific location—these are all examples of things outside of yourself that can compel you to return to substance abuse.

Internal Triggers

On the other hand, internal triggers are thoughts and feelings that compel you to return to substance abuse. Oftentimes, negative emotions are connected with relapse, but even positive feelings can make someone want to use drugs again.

Some examples of common internal triggers include:

  • Anxiety or depression
  • Thoughts or feelings you want to avoid
  • Obsessive thinking
  • Wanting to feel “normal”
  • Celebrating a positive life event
  • Holidays and parties
  • Increased levels of stress
  • Overconfidence in your control of your sobriety

Common Holiday Triggers & How to Cope

With the holidays coming to an end, this transitional period can leave you feeling distressing emotions like depression or loneliness—which can lead to returning to harmful habits to cope. Here are a few of the most frequent triggers that happen this time of year and some tips to help you feel better while maintaining your sobriety.

Holiday Stress

From decorating to buying the perfect gifts for everyone—the holidays can be extremely stressful. With stress being the leading cause of relapses, it’s no mystery that this time of year can bring about a barrage of distressing emotions and the urge to use again.

When you feel yourself starting to get anxious or feeling overwhelmed, opt for more positive ways to make yourself feel present and relaxed. Here are some simple ways to cope with heightened stress levels:

  • Take a walk around your neighborhood
  • Take a hot shower
  • Run a warm bath
  • Try to meditate
  • Practice yoga
  • Try painting or drawing
  • Practice breathing exercises
  • Try progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Call someone you trust and vent
  • Write your thoughts down in a journal

Being Around Loved Ones Who Drink or Use

With many holiday festivities surrounding dinners and partying, it isn’t uncommon to encounter other people who choose to indulge in drugs and alcohol. While you may not be able to completely avoid these events, here are some ways that you can minimize the temptation to use again during the holidays:

  • Bring a “support buddy” to social gatherings.
  • Shift your focus to the reason for the season.
  • Leave if you feel uncomfortable or pressured.
  • Pre-plan responses for why you aren’t drinking or using drugs.
  • Know that it’s okay to say no.

Overestimating Your Sobriety

Whether you’ve been sober for 10 days or 10 years, drug and alcohol addiction are lifelong diseases. Although you may feel confident that you are in control of your substance use, it’s easy to spiral and fall back into bad habits. If you find yourself saying things like “it’s just one time,” take a moment to remind yourself how far you’ve come in your journey toward recovery and wellness.

Consider Revisiting Treatment

While experiencing a relapse may make you feel isolated, know that you are not alone. If you’ve returned to using, that doesn’t mean it has to be the end of the road for your path toward recovery. It’s not that your previous treatment has failed, you just need to re-evaluate your needs and develop a new treatment plan that can better equip you with the tools you need to stay sober.

Seeking Help for Addiction at North Georgia Recovery Center

The road to recovery starts with taking the first step. Let us walk alongside you on the path to sobriety and wellness. When you choose to get treatment at North Georgia Recovery Center, you can rest assured knowing that you will be treated by licensed therapists in our state-of-the-art facilities. Every one of our team members is certified to address and effectively treat the issues that come along with addiction.

To schedule your free consultation with our team, call (678) 940-7873 or contact us online today.

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