As behavioral health professionals, we recognize that successfully recovering from drug and/or alcohol addiction is uniquely challenging and almost never a straightforward journey. Especially during this time of year, with celebrations and social gatherings galore, it’s important to understand the challenges those in recovery commonly face, so we may better help arm them with the tools they need to navigate the season and continue on their path to health and happiness.

  1. Finding and utilizing new coping strategies: Many people in recovery once turned to drugs or alcohol to cope with difficult times and circumstances. Finding new ways to cope with the ups and downs of life can be very challenging because they are not only engaging in new habits and behaviors, but also battling the urge to fall back into familiar behaviors.
  2. Fixing old relationships and forging new ones: Addiction affects everyone — friends and loved ones especially. Relationships can suffer, and making amends is part of the recovery process. However, the love, care and support from close relationships are essential to those in recovery, so taking those steps to repair old relationships and forge healthy new ones is an important part of the recovery process.
  3. Dealing with boredom: Boredom can be a big threat to sobriety, so finding activities and loved ones to help manage boredom is key. Keeping schedules, filling free time and relying on structure can be beneficial tools for those in recovery.
  4. Managing urges: The holidays are prime-time for urges, especially with so many social events and opportunities to relapse. This is a good time for those in recovery to re-familiarize themselves with the tools they’ve relied on to manage urges thus far, and continue building on those methods.
  5. Maintaining sobriety: Maintaining sobriety is a lifelong commitment for those in recovery from addiction, and this means that there is always a chance of relapse. Understanding triggers and continuing the difficult work to stay sober, even when it’s difficult, is key to staying on the path to recovery.
  6. Finding purpose: Adapting to a new life that does not involve drugs or alcohol can be a difficult and lonely journey. Many people have a hard time finding direction or purpose in life when they no longer rely on substances to fill their time. This can negatively impact self-esteem. Exploring new activities and hobbies and learning more about likes, dislikes, dreams and interests can help those in recovery discover what speaks to them and what comes next in this new life filled with opportunities.
Being prepared to face the holiday season can help those in recovery continue on the path, especially when they have the support and care they need. Community can make all the difference in recovery and sober living. For those in recovery, support is not only beneficial, but a vital part of a successful journey to recovery. There are many ways that we as healthcare professionals can support the recovery process, and we can arm those affected by addiction with the same methods during the holidays and beyond.

6 common challenges people in addiction recovery face