Managing Addiction During the Holiday Season

The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists Offers Advice for Preventing Relapse This Holiday Season

Nov 22, 2011, 06:00 ET from California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists from ,


SAN DIEGO, Nov. 22, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The holiday season can be an especially trying time of year for those in recovery. The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists offers tips for those suffering with addiction to help prevent relapse.

Imagine the challenges faced by an overeater that is tempted by the abundance of holiday treats, the alcoholic that is offered drink after drink at the many social events, and the drug addict who might slip back into old habits to manage their personal struggles during this stressful time of year. 

"Colleagues, neighbors and acquaintances are not always aware of the internal struggle a person may be facing when confronted with being offered an alcoholic beverage or a slice of 'comfort' food," said Dr. Stephen Grinstead, LMFT, who specializes in addiction recovery. "Remember that your sobriety is a priority and you don't have to attend every social gathering.  If it is an event you must attend, ask if you can bring a friend or even your sponsor who can help you resist temptation and remind you how important your recovery is."


The following steps can help manage an addiction as we enter the holiday season.

  1. Weigh your options. You don't have to attend every social gathering of the season.  If the event is something that you aren't required to attend, and you don't feel strong enough to manage it, it might be best to decline. Sticking to stress free events this holiday season is the best way to avoid relapse.
  2. Plan ahead. Before you go to an event, think about the situations you might face. How will you respond when offered a drink or dessert?  Prepare yourself with a few responses to help you kindly refuse the tempting offer.
  3. Engage your support system.  Bring a friend or your sponsor along who can help you stay on track.  If you can't bring a friend, reach out to your sponsor and think about attending a support group meeting before and after the event.
  4. Take a break. The Holidays are stressful and good stress management is essential for avoiding relapse. Fighting off the temptations of the holiday season can be exhausting.  There are many things you can do to help clear your mind, such as deep breathing, taking a walk and getting plenty of rest.
  5. Remember that you have a disease called addiction.  It can be easy to tell yourself "it's just one drink" if you are not prepared to say "no." Remember: just one bite, drink or hit can lead to severe relapse. Once you take the first drink that drink is in control—not you.  Remember the saying "one is too many and 1,000 is never enough."


If you or someone you care for is struggling with addiction, help is available.  Learn more about addiction or find a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in addiction in your area at


The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) is a professional organization dedicated to the advancement of the state's licensed and prelicensed Marriage and Family Therapists and the common interests of its 29,000 members.  CAMFT provides as a free resource for individuals looking for Marriage and Family Therapists located in California.  Marriage and Family Therapists treat a comprehensive range of issues including depression, anxiety, phobias/fears, elder and child issues, relationship issues, post-traumatic stress, and severe mental illness.  For more information, visit or

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