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Life Arts    H2'ed 12/13/21

Three Easy Steps to Maintain Your Recovery During the Holiday

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red wine for the holidays
red wine for the holidays
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The holidays can be the toughest time of year to stay abstinent from an addiction. Relapsing with drinking, eating disorders, and over-spending are at high risk during this time. The added stress of preparations, family relations, and feeling alone can trigger thoughts about your addiction. As a result, some people find themselves going backward without ever realizing they are at risk. But even though it might be the toughest time of year to maintain a recovery program, it doesn't have to be difficult. A few simple steps can keep you safe from being at the mercy of addiction and keep you in charge of your hard-earned recovery.


Most relapses seem to occur magically. Suddenly, without warning, a person is swept into the thought of unwanted behavior and finds themselves doing the very thing they swore they'd never do again. Relapse doesn't happen by chance. It starts with a lack of self-care, then creeps in little by little through added stress, disappointment, hurt, or any other typical life challenge.

There will be moments in life, that overwhelming feelings can sweep you into the tornado of forgetting all your hard work. But to stay committed, you must be proactive and put self-love above all else so that when tempted, you have solid armor to protect you from defeat.

Whenever you think of the addiction, pause and take a deep breath. The thought of reengaging in your addiction is a warning signal that something is out of whack in your life. Be aware of what's triggered these thoughts. Are you doing too much? Are you isolating? Have you mixed up your priorities? Have you withdrawn from your support system? Are you following a good orderly direction? Are you feeling over-confident that you've got the addiction licked?

Once you review your behavior, you can correct it and reboot your thoughts and make healthier decisions before it's too late.

If all else fails, say this: "I might (drink, spend, eat sugar, gamble, etc.,) tomorrow, but not right now. Instead of acting out the thought, remember the last time you engaged in the addiction and what happened; the hangover, throwing up, feeling sick, overwhelming guilt and shame, the disappointed look in your loved one's eyes. Was it worth the pain?

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Donna Marks is an educator and licensed psychotherapist and addictions counselor in Palm Beach, Florida. She has worked with over 6,000 clients. She became licensed as a Mental Health Counselor in 1987. In 1989, she earned a Doctorate Degree in (more...)

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