The holidays can be a difficult time for people recovering from addiction. Stress, visiting with family members and alcohol-fueled holiday parties can add triggers that may not be present during the rest of the year. If you or someone you love struggles with addiction, these tips can help you have a substance-free holiday this year.

Know Your Triggers

One of the most important aspects of staying sober is knowing what triggers can make you crave certain substances. Loneliness, stress, and negative personal relationships can often provide triggers for people struggling with addiction. Knowing what your personal triggers are and trying to avoid them can help put you out of harms way during the holidays.

Plan Your Responses Ahead of Time

During the holidays it can help to have responses prepared ahead of time. When you are offered a substance that could interfere with your recovery, having a prepared response ready will make it easier to say ‘no’. By practicing saying no ahead of time, you will find that a simple “No thanks” or change in subject can be an easy response to help you stay on track. Letting family members and friends know ahead of time that you’d like to stay sober during festivities can also help others participate in helping you achieve your goals.

Remember Your Long-Term Goals

During the holidays it is easy to get caught up in the joy and festivity of the season. When you are busy with travel and spending time with families it can be more difficult to keep your goals for sobriety in the forefront of your mind. Taking intentional steps to remember that sobriety is important for your long-term health, family, and career goals can make maintaining those goals during the holidays much easier. Setting regular reminders for yourself about your sobriety can make the path to recovery easier. If necessary, seeking out support from a rehabilitation center with professional resources to help deal with specific substance abuse issues can be the lifeline that is needed during the holidays. With the big picture in mind it can be easier to stay substance free during the holidays.

Stay Accountable

Having someone who will keep you accountable to your goals for sobriety can provide a support system to lean on during the holidays. The encouragement of someone else who understands your struggles and can keep your best interests in mind can be helpful when triggers appear. Attending holiday parties with someone who is holding you to your goals can ease the stress of handling temptation on your own. You may find that it is more difficult to slip backwards in your path to sobriety when there is someone who is holding you accountable to your success.

Stay Healthy

The holidays can be a stressful time of year. Sleep deprivation, hectic schedules, and financial worries can all take their toll on your physical and mental health. Stress can often be a trigger that can contribute to relapse. By making a conscious decision to concentrate on your health and well-being this holiday season you can get out in front of a potential relapse. Concentrating on making sure that you get enough sleep, eat well, and get a little exercise can go a long way. If you find that your schedule is becoming packed with events, don’t feel guilty about saying no to additional obligations. Putting your long-term health at the top of your priority list will make the temptation of attending holiday parties seem less important.

Ask for Support

It can be very difficult to recover from addiction alone, and recovery is an ongoing process. If you find yourself struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to family and friends who support your recovery. Talking through your feelings can be therapeutic and allow for those who care for you to offer support. If you are supporting a family member who is trying to stay sober, be sure to let them know that you are available if they need you, even if its only to lend a ear.

Sobriety is a challenge, especially during the holidays. If you’re in recovery, be proactive about having a substance-free holiday season by remembering your long-term sobriety goals, knowing how you’ll deal with temptation, and seeking out emotional support to support you during the holiday months. If you’re supporting a family member or friend in their recovery, help them stay sober this holiday season by being engaged and available for support.