Recovery Resources for Holiday Season Success

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With the holiday season upon us, I want to share two excellent resources for those of us in recovery. The first is a chapter from Life After Lust called Holiday Recipes for Relapse and Recovery (below). The second is a podcast created by my friends at LifeSTAR St George entitled Recovery Success During the Holidays (for addicts & partners). May these resources strengthen and encourage you in a season that is both inherantly difficult and packed with positive potential.

 

CHAPTER 25

Holiday Recipes for Relapse and Recovery

Skill to Master #26: Maintaining recovery structure and self-care over the holidays

For those who have other religious or holiday traditions, this material may translate to any special occasions observed by the reader.

The holidays can feel like a minefield for those in recovery. More so than other times of the year, potentially disastrous dynamics go hand-in-hand with the celebrations of the season. Sexual addicts can benefit from preparing themselves for the inherent holiday challenges by understanding the following recipes for relapse and recovery. May these compelling reminders provide guidance for all who hope to maintain momentum through the holiday season.


Recipes for Relapse:

1. Increased triggers. The holidays often contain plentiful triggers. There can be triggers related to specific days and places that remind addicts of past acting out or trauma. Interactions with relatives can ignite internal suffering, whether through family drama or reminders of past losses. New or different environments can be triggers, especially when the drug of choice is suddenly made available. Additionally, the attitude of indulgence that often accompanies the holidays can lead to all-or- nothing thinking that increases addictive and self- defeating behaviors.

2. Decreased structure. Addiction thrives in disorder. The structure of recovery (i.e. maintaining healthy habits, minimizing of triggers, connecting with accountability, attending meetings, etc.) offers safety for those striving not to slip. Addiction counselor Jim LaPierre emphasizes the importance of maintaining structure and recovery routines, sharing that an addict with too much free time is an addict in a dangerous situation.204 Time off work and/or school combined with little to no responsibility can be disorienting for those in recovery. Boredom, laziness with recovery routines, and feeling an overall lack of constraint can quickly lead addicts into preoccupation and relapse.

3. Food and sugar…everywhere! The majority of popular American holidays have a large sugar component. Whether in the plethora of pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving, the convenience of Christmas candies, or the excess of Easter sweets, sugar is significant. Self- control is necessary for recovering addicts; unfortunately, high sugar consumption results in increased impulsivity. Additionally, using food to cope with the many holiday stressors may offer temporary numbness but does not result in the connection (with self and others) that is intrinsic in successful recovery. Of course, we can enjoy the delicious delicacies of the season but when we find ourselves eating to escape or seeking out “comfort foods” to manage our moods, we are entering addictive territory.

 

Recipes for Recovery:

1. Sustaining self-care. Self-care is inseparable from successful recovery and the holidays are no exception. Maintaining habits that strengthen the brake system of the brain (the pre-frontal cortex) results in an infusion of strength and self-control. Sleep, exercise, healthy eating, and mindful breathing all have this empowering effect in the brain. Making time for relaxation and the enjoyment of fun activities is not only essential for recovery but also for experiencing the joys of living. Making food choices that avoid crashes and promote consistent energy can be helpful. 207 Starting with morning inspiration and ending with healthy evening decompression will be especially important. All of these self-care practices create needed structure and will aid in sustaining recovery throughout the holiday season.

2. Remaining connected. Strength and stability are rooted in connection. Reaching out to one’s accountability team, spouse or partner, friends, sponsor, and Higher Power can help those in recovery stay grounded, managing emotions and other triggers.

Connection to self is also vital. Maintaining an intimate understanding of what’s happening internally can help with decisions to take breaks for much-needed down-time. Being aware of imminent needs is essential for those in recovery. When experiencing emotional suffering inherent in interactions with others or resulting from personal choices, a self-compassion practice is recommended.

While maintaining these connections are especially helpful for relapse prevention, they can also help those in recovery recommit quickly after perceived mistakes or slips before the addictive behavior escalates.

3. Maintaining mindfulness. It is impossible to be mindful and compulsive simultaneously. Those in recovery may find themselves in diverse and unexpected circumstances and mindfulness helps protect against unhelpful reactivity. Surfing the Urge208 is a great tool that stops overreaction to inner turmoil and the impulsive indulgence of cravings. Being mindful of both your external environment and your internal landscape (i.e. feelings, triggers, cravings, etc.) will help sexual addicts make wiser choices and more fully enjoy each moment.

 

Savoring Success

Staying committed and successful requires sustained effort. Baking up these recipes for recovery may feel burdensome. While time-intensive, those who invest in these strategies will experience just the opposite. This much-needed structure promotes true freedom and enjoyment.

Keeping in mind the purpose of these strategies and personal reasons for staying committed will help those in recovery remain on track with their goals. This proactive approach to surviving the holidays will result in refreshment, end in energy, and supercharge connections. Those who practice these principles will savor the satisfying aroma of accomplishment, with an acute awareness that they cooked up something meaningful in the midst of challenging conditions.


References

Benedict, F. (2015, November 26). Holiday Recipes for Relapse & Recovery (Revised). Retrieved from https://lifestarcentralvalley.wordpress.com/2014/11/20/holiday-recipes-for-relapse- recovery-revised

LaPierre, J. (2013, March 09). Habits & Routines Make Recovery & Life Manageable. Retrieved February 06, 2017, from http://recoveryrocks.bangordailynews.com/2013/03/09/addiction/habits-routines-make- recovery-life-manageable/

McGonigal, K. (2012). The willpower instinct: how self-control works, why it matters, and what you can do to get more of it. New York: Avery.
206, McGonigal, K. (2012, February 01). The Willpower Instinct. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5BXuZL1HAg&t=1s

McGonigal, K. (2012). The willpower instinct: how self-control works, why it matters, and what you can do to get more of it. New York: Avery.
208 University of Washington. (n.d.). Urge Surfing. Retrieved from http://depts.washington.edu/abrc/mbrp/recordings/Urge%20Surfing.mp3

 

Forest Benedict, LMFT, SATP, author of Life After Lust: Stories & Strategies for Sex & Pornography Addiction Recovery. Please follow Forest on the following platforms: NewsletterYoutubeBlogTwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest, and SHARE this valuable content with others. Thank you!

Categories Addiction, life after lust, Recovery, Sexual AddictionTags , ,

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