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What to Do After Relapsing During the Holidays

What to Do After Relapsing During the Holidays

Many holiday-related activities raise the risk of relapse, but it does not mean that treatment has failed

Although addiction relapse is never welcome, it is also not uncommon. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) notes that relapse rates for addiction are similar to those of other common conditions. Hypertension, asthma and diabetes all have relapse rates similar to that of addiction.

Holiday-related Relapse Triggers

Although relapse can occur at any time of the year, there are factors related to holiday seasons that may contribute. These include the following:

  • Changes in routine – It is important for people in recovery to develop a routine that includes self-care. This means taking care of the physical body by exercising, eating well, avoiding environmental toxins and getting adequate sleep. It also means making time for recovery support in the form of support group attendance and contact with a mentor. The holidays often involve changes in routine that make it easy for elements of self-care to slip and for the risk of relapse to increase.
  • Family stress – During the holiday season, extended families often spend more time than usual together. This can be rewarding and joyful, but can also bring stress when there are relationship strains. Stress is a common and significant relapse trigger. Although no one is immune, relationship struggles may be a more significant relapse trigger for women than for men. In a publication titled “Substance Abuse Treatment: Addressing the Specific Needs of Women,” the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA) notes that women are more likely than men to relapse because of interpersonal conflicts.
  • Increased presence of addictive substances – It is wise for those in recovery from any addiction to avoid all psychoactive substances. Temptation to use is increased when availability is increased, and during the holiday season availability may be higher. It is common for alcohol to be served at holiday parties for example. Out-of-town guests may also bring potentially addictive prescription medications with them.
  • The renewal of old friendships – Sometimes old friends return to town for the holiday season. If the friendships once involved substance use, it can be problematic for people in recovery to renew them. Sometimes there will be overt pressure from old friends to abuse substances, but even when there is not, the environmental cues and associations are likely to increase craving and the risk of relapse.

Seek Help as Soon as Possible

NIDA notes that relapse does not mean that treatment has failed for addiction to drugs like clonazepam, but it does mean that it needs to be altered, adjusted or reinstated. The sooner that the relapse is faced and addressed, the easier it will be to overcome it. It is important to seek help as soon as possible.

The degree of help needed depends on a wide variety of factors. Some people may be able to return to sobriety by seeking extra help from a mentor and their addiction support group. Others will need help from professional counselors. Some will decide that the best course of action is to return to a full rehab program.

In general the longer the time spent in rehab, the lower the rate of subsequent relapse. In a list of principles of effective drug abuse treatment, NIDA notes that most individuals need to be in treatment for at least three months. A 2008 article in the LA Times reports on a study of cocaine users which found that those who stayed in treatment for 90 days or longer had a relapse rate that was half that of the patients treated for shorter lengths of time. Because shorter stays are common, it can be very helpful for patients who experience a relapse to return to rehab for addiction to drugs like clonazepam. A 2007 report by the Drug and Alcohol Services Information System reported that in 2005, slightly less than half of admissions were first-time substance abuse patients and the rest had been in some sort of treatment previously.

Sometimes a holiday relapse is due to an untreated co-existing mental health condition like anxiety or depression. A 2014 Treatment Episode Data Set report notes that in 2012, about one-third of patients admitted for substance abuse treatment also had a psychiatric problem. Treating addiction and any co-existing mental health conditions in an integrated and coordinated manner can improve a patient’s quality of life and lower the risk of future relapse.

We Can Help

If you have relapsed to drugs like clonazepam and are unsure of your next step, or if you are ready to begin a recovery journey, give us a call. Our helpline is toll-free and available 24 hours a day. We can help you find treatment that is right for you and can check your insurance coverage for you if you wish, at no cost or obligation. Let us help you find your freedom.