Can you believe we’re only a month away from Christmas? While these past eleven months feel as if they’ve flown by, and millions of people are preparing for a well-earned break, for many Australians, the silly season can come with a whole host of unique challenges.

SMART Recovery Australia makes a point of not discriminating between addictive behaviours. More often than not, the underlying causes of addiction can manifest in multiple problem behaviours, even within one individual. We’ve met hundreds of participants who came to SMART Recovery Australia thinking that their issue was with drugs or alcohol, but later found echoes of this behaviour in other behaviours, whether they were to do with work, family, or any other aspect of their day-to-day life.

As our airwaves and billboards succumb to the tidal wave of Christmas advertising – turkeys, generously poured glasses of wine, tables overloaded with hefty servings – people dealing with a wide variety of addictions can find themselves increasingly triggered as the season wears on. If you’re finding yourself concerned about yourself or a loved one, you might find these tips useful.

 

  1. Fail to plan, plan to fail
    Relapse prevention plans are a vital part of many addiction recovery strategies. This doesn’t have to be a series of concrete steps or a detailed how-to guide for avoiding relapse – a simple “what will you do if…?” conversation can make a huge difference. Sticking to a regular eating routine is particularly encouraged, as disrupting this schedule can make lapses seem more tempting.

  2. Avoid judgement and minimisation
    Always bear in mind that your loved one needs to feel comfortable and safe in order to prioritise their recovery. It’s vital that you avoid minimising their experience as well: even if it seems small to you, the problem can feel insurmountable when you’re wrapped up in it yourself. When people feel judged, their instinct isn’t to pull their socks up – it’s to retreat into comfort elsewhere, often leading to a lapse. Bearing this in mind, when lapses do happen, it’s important to recognise them for what they are: an unfortunate, but natural, part of the recovery process. They don’t undo all your good work – they’re a reminder that your good work happened, and that you can recover again.

  3. Be Understanding
    This one might seem like a bit of a no-brainer, but simply not being negative is only half the battle. Offer your positive, engaged support, and you’ll make the holiday period easier on everyone involved. Communicate beforehand that it’s OK for your loved one to miss out on some traditions or obligations if it means prioritising their recovery – feeling supported helps them to avoid the shame many people feel around their recovery, and encourages them in their ongoing battle.