Recovery and Holiday Social Norms

People in long term substance use recovery have to go through various peaks and pits throughout each year that contribute to or take away from their journey to maintain sobriety. Data can offer insights into which times of the year might be more of a struggle, as well as the variety of risk and protective factors for a person in recovery. With the holiday season and winter now behind us, data confirms again that holidays are hard for many people working through substance use recovery.

The holiday season can present challenges that are unique, heavy, and emotional. Paired with the cold weather and the potential for seasonal affective disorder (SAD) it is reasonable that this time of year often sees an uptick in episodes of relapse. The season presents many possible triggers, like increased time with family and friends, the presence of alcohol, added stress, additional financial obligations, and parties, among other things. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, these stressors, as well as memories of the past and the reconnection with various friends and families may trigger a relapse.

Now that we are in the spring/summertime season, we have holidays approaching like Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. You might think about how someone you know in recovery may struggle with certain social norms and events related to these holidays and offer your support. If you are interested in learning more about how you can be an advocate for someone in recovery, there are many resources that can guide you. While there might not be very clear instructions on how to advocate for someone in recovery, you can start by learning more about the complex nature of substance use disorder, and doing your part to create healthy environments for your loved ones in recovery.