The holiday season is a time when people are supposed to be full of joy. But for individuals in recovery from addiction to alcohol or drugs, “it can be a trying time,” said Indra Cidambi, M.D. of the Center for Network Therapy (CNT) in West Orange. There, readmission rates went from roughly 25 percent to more than 60 percent after Thanksgiving, suggesting a 150 percent spike.
Cidambi said the hazards of the season for those recovering from addiction include interpersonal conflicts as well as stress over money and gift-giving. And then there are the holiday blues. “The loneliness and melancholy are triggers for relapse,” Cidambi said.
Among the things she suggests might help people to maintain sobriety over the holiday season: “Individuals in recovery are vulnerable and need to focus on safeguarding their sobriety,” by going to AA Alkathons before and after an event, ensuring their sponsor is available for support, having an escape plan that enables them to leave a gathering at any time, and planning activities that keep them socially active and not isolated.