The festive season is a time full of cheer and joy for many. However, for those struggling with addiction, increased drinking during the holidays can pose serious risks. Excessive festive drinking is common in the UK and may trigger or worsen addictive behaviours. In this article FindRehab Director Gavin Ellis, looks at how to avoid overindulging during Christmas parties and offers advice for seeking help with substance abuse.
How To Avoid Drinking To Excess During Christmas and The Festive Period
Increased socialising and relaxed routines during the holidays often mean more opportunities for drinking and alcohol addiction. But it’s important to be mindful of consumption to prevent problems down the line.
Some tips include:
- Pace yourself by alternating alcoholic drinks with soft drinks and water. Staying hydrated helps curb intoxication.
- Eat before and while drinking to slow the absorption of alcohol into your system. Food acts as a buffer.
- Set a drink limit and stick to it. Consider having no more than one drink per hour.
- Avoid drinking games or settings where peer pressure to drink may be high.
- If designated driver, commit to remaining completely alcohol-free.
- Be extra cautious if taking medicines that can interact with alcohol.
- Never drink and drive – plan safe transportation home in advance.
How Christmas and Christmas Parties Can Cause Addictions
For those already struggling with substance misuse issues, the holidays pose even greater challenges:
Stressful family dynamics or dysfunction may trigger increased drinking as a coping mechanism.
More celebratory occasions mean greater access and normalisation of alcohol/drug consumption.
Loneliness or depression during what’s supposed to be a joyous time can push one towards numbing with substances.
Lack of normal routine and responsibilities may enable around-the-clock access and binging.
Peer pressure to constantly socialise and “keep up” at festive gatherings adds to the risk of relapse.
Recognising these risks is key to forming a strategy against excessive substance use during Christmas and beyond. Reach out for support at the first signs of spiralling drinking patterns.
How Can Someone Get Help With a Substance Abuse Problem or Addiction?
Accepting the problem is the first step to overcoming addiction. Some options for seeking help include:
Speaking to your GP. They can assess your needs, risks and recommend the right treatment path.
Contacting specialist organisations like Drinkaware and FRANK who provide confidential advice and referrals.
Rehabilitation centres, either residential or outpatient, offer medically-assisted detox and long-term therapy programmes.
Support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous or SMART Recovery use peer support for accountability and relapse prevention.
Private counselling on the NHS or via private practices treats underlying causes through therapy like CBT.
Family support networks and al-anon/al-anon groups aid loved ones affected by someone else’s addiction.
Getting help from trained professionals is key – do not try to detox or overcome addiction alone without medical supervision or input.
Get Treatment to Overcome an Addiction
Residential or inpatient treatment provides a controlled, supportive environment away from triggers to fully focus on recovery. Programmes address:
Medically-supervised detox to safely withdrawal from substances. This may include replacement therapies depending on the drug.
Individual and group psychotherapy to understand causes sustaining addiction and replace unhealthy patterns.
Relapse prevention techniques like identifying relapse warning signs and high-risk situations.
Life skills training to handle daily challenges, stressors and emotions without relying on substances.
Family programmes help loved ones understand addiction and offer tools to support long-term recovery.
Outpatient treatments are scheduled appointments incorporating above elements while living at home. The right programme balances medical, therapeutic and social support aspects. Committing fully increases chances of sustained abstinence.
Prepare to Change
Overcoming addiction requires willingness and readiness to change every aspect enabling the addictive habit. Recovering addicts must:
Replace social circles cantered around substance use with new sober support networks.
Relearn sober coping strategies for managing feelings without substances numbing or triggering cravings.
Commit to an aftercare plan and ongoing support through 12-step meetings or other means.
Remove all substance use triggers from home/work environments and routines as much as possible.
Ask for help from loved ones to stay accountable, avoid old patterns and create a nurturing recovery environment.
Consistency is key – minor slip ups may occur but don’t lose hope. Learn from each experience and commit to growing in recovery everyday. Relapse does not define success if one learns from it.
What Can Help With Addiction Recovery?
Beyond treatment, certain lifestyle habits aid long-term sobriety and mental wellbeing:
Regular exercise releases feel-good endorphins, relieves stress and provides needed distraction.
A nutritious whole foods diet fuels both physical and mental health avoiding addictive triggers.
Meaningful pursuits, hobbies and interests provide structure and fulfilment replacing the “void” substances once masked.
Creative outlets like art, music, writing etc help process emotions and relax without substances.
Spirituality or religion offer purpose, serenity and community support for some recovering addicts.
Meditation and mindfulness practice calm anxiety and restlessness, while improving impulse control.
Adequate sleep, reduced stress and nurturing self-care all reinforce one’s wellness toolbox against addiction.
Continued therapy aid long term recovery by maintaining insights and preventing underlying issues causing relapse.
Holistic wellness supports sustainable sobriety from within by meeting core needs met once through addictions.
Why Overcoming Addiction Is So Difficult
Addiction is a chronic medical condition that affects brain function through constant substance use. Some reasons why it’s challenging to overcome include:
Altered neurological pathways in reward centres become habituated to expect intoxication as the primary source of pleasure/relief.
Triggering environmental/social cues linked to past use provoke intense cravings and obsessive substance-seeking behaviours.
Mental health co-occurring conditions like depression, anxiety etc are commonly used to self-medicate fuelling addiction further.
Learned thought patterns associate intoxication with stress-relief, identity, self-esteem regulation and daily functioning over time.
Physiological withdrawal contributes to cravings and difficulty with abstaining from addictive substances completely.
Risk of relapse is lifelong as brain changes persist, despite external/internal recovery gains made. Slip ups easily spiral back into active addiction.
Overcoming addiction requires sustained work to rewire brain circuits and learn healthier replacements through a holistic long-term commitment and community support. Patience, compassion and resilience is needed.
Relapse prevention strategies are important to reduce the risk of returning to addictive behaviours and substance misuse, even after periods of sustained recovery and sobriety:
Attend ongoing support group meetings be it 12-step fellowships or other programs for continued accountability.
Develop a relapse preparedness plan outlining potential triggers and high-risk situations with avoidance/coping strategies.
Remove all enablers and using buddies from one’s social circle replacing them with sober supportive networks.
Ask loved ones for help recognizing early warning signs like mood/attitude changes impairing judgement.
Have phone numbers available for immediate support from sponsors, counsellors etc during moments of vulnerability.
Know basic relapse models to understand how it occurs incrementally without immediate realization.
Find substitute enjoyable activities to engage in instead of free time spent ruminating on cravings or past using behaviours.
Seek medical help quickly at any lapse or slip to prevent full relapse spirals with lose of recovery gains made.
Constant vigilance and daily maintenance practices through triggers assists long-term sobriety from relapse. Community support acts as a protective buffer.
Dangers of Relapse
A relapse refers to consistently resuming substance misuse or other addictive behaviours after a period of sobriety or recovery. Some risks include:
Undoing neurological progress made by reactivating original reward pathways re-establishing addiction.
Increased cravings and difficulty controlling intake due to reduced inhibitions skewing self-medication judgments.
Physical health dangers if relapsing to previously toxic levels of consumption after losing tolerance. Risk of overdose heightens.
Mental health struggles may intensify due to shame, depression from seeing recovery efforts fail decreasing motivation further attempts.
Legal problems may resurface from behaviours linked to intoxication like erratic driving or public disruptions, undoing hard work to rebuild lives.
Financial issues occur rapidly due to lost productivity and funds diverted back towards supporting addictions.
Relationships dissolve under strain of addiction resurfacing, undoing rebuilt trust within support systems.
Risk of never recovering increases with each relapse attempt squandering precious windows of opportunity for sustainable change.
Detecting triggers early and preventing a full relapse is important to maintain sobriety and wellness gains. Community support aids this process.
Tips for Overcoming an Addiction
Overcoming addiction is a lifelong process that requires long-term commitment and daily maintenance. Quitting substances is just the first step – recovery involves continuous work to reshape unhealthy thought patterns and behaviours. Slip ups may occur but don’t lose hope – each experience can strengthen resolve if learned from. Committing to long-term wellness aids sustainable recovery.
Develop a Support System
Surrounding oneself with individuals invested in one’s healing aids accountability and prevents loneliness – triggers for substance abuse. 12-step fellowships, therapy groups, or individual sponsors offer non-judgmental support. Support systems also include family learning about addiction to understand without enabling relapses.
Holistic well-being involving healthy activities meeting needs met via past addictions promotes natural happiness. Regular exercise, nutrition, rest, hobbies and spiritual practices nurture mental wellness resisting cravings. Self-care demonstrates commitment to a balanced lifestyle supporting long-term sobriety.
Address Underlying Issues
For many, addictions develop to numb underlying struggles. Commit to therapy addressing causes sustaining habits like trauma, mental health concerns or maladaptive patterns. Gaining insights and replacing behaviours with coping strategies empowers sustainable recovery.
Find Purpose Beyond Addiction
Meaningful goals, education and purposeful work rewire reward pathways skewed towards intoxication. Maintain focus beyond past addict identities towards personal growth and contributions to others strengthening motivation to persevere.
Learn to Manage Emotions Soberly
Addictions often develop to self-medicate difficult emotions. Develop sober coping strategies like journaling, discussions or relaxation replacing intoxication previously relied on. With practice, emotional regulation strengthens without substances supporting long-term well-being.
Prepare for Triggers and Relapse
High-risk situations may persist requiring preparedness. Develop strategies countering triggers and temptation thoughts lapses may induce. Seek immediate support from networks at the first signs to prevent full relapse with trained support. Each experience strengthens recovery when learned from rather than shaming recovery progress.
With continued commitment to growth beyond addiction, recovery provides opportunity for sustained wellness, purpose and fulfilment. Connecting one’s “why” for change motivates persevering through challenges inherent to the healing process.
Delicious Food and Drink Ideas Without alcohol
Social occasions can remain enjoyable substance-free. Moderate celebrating with tasty creations fitting one’s recovery path sustains willpower holidays demand most. Some options include:
Festive Mocktails: Creative non-alcoholic beverages inspire celebration like cranberry spritzers, gingerbread lattes or pomegranate fizz.
Seasonal Baking: Nothing says comfort like homemade cookies, mini pies or other indulgent treats stimulating senses alcohol once did.
Warming Soups: Nourishing yet non-intoxicating options such as butternut squash bisque or tomato soup pair well with conversation.
Bruschetta Boards: Artfully arrange breads topped with fresh cheeses, tapenades or roasted vegetables for snacking.
Dips and Spreads: Hummus, tzatziki or pesto served with crudités or pita wedges satisfy appetites without over-consumption issues.
Hearty Salads: Grilled chicken or salmon Caesar, or roasted vegetable salad with balsamic provide sustenance.
Moderation applies regardless whereby one nourishes balanced lifestyle habits rather than using food compulsively. Festive celebrating remains joyous making responsible choices fitting recovery stays the priority. With preparation and willpower, holidays offer inspiration for continued growth.