/ Mind/ How To Maintain Your Sobriety Over the Holidays
Inkblot shares tips on how to maintain sobriety over the holidays if you are struggling with excessive substance use.
It’s no surprise that the holidays can pose challenges to maintaining one’s sobriety: in an ordinary year, this festive season can bring an increased focus around alcohol at gatherings, invite stressful family dynamics and cause heightened feelings of loneliness. All of this can be enough to trigger relapse if you don’t have a plan in place. But this year – with more uncertainty around how the holidays will look than ever before and more Canadians escaping their emotional challenges through alcohol – the risk of relapse could be even higher.
According to the latest in a set of six surveys from CAMH about the state of Canadians’ mental health during the pandemic, one in four Canadians are experiencing high levels of anxiety due to COVID-19 and turning to binge drinking to cope. In a survey of 1,003 adults, conducted between November 27 and December 1, 2020, 25.7% of people reported engaging in heavy episodic drinking, up from 19% before the pandemic.
The trend could have dangerous implications for the long-term health and wellness of Canadians. As noted by CAMH Psychiatrist Dr. David Gratzer, alcohol is a highly addictive substance and high levels of drinking could create bad habits that stick. “The longer people engage in this unfortunate coping strategy,” he says, “The harder it will be to change, I suspect.”
We spoke with Lisa Koole, a Registered Psychotherapist and Certified Addiction Counsellor on the Inkblot platform, about how to maintain sobriety over the holidays if you are struggling with excessive substance use.
Plan Ahead. If you’re going to be at a small holiday gathering this year be sure to go into it with a plan. Bring non-alcoholic drinks that you could enjoy in case the host has not provided and have a clear exit strategy if you feel overwhelmed or triggered. “Even thinking of things like where you’re parked in the driveway can be helpful,” Koole says. “Be very specific. Have an excuse as to why you need to leave early off the bat.”
Most importantly, Koole says you should create a fun Plan B. “It’s not going to be fun to leave a gathering to go home and sit by yourself,” she says. Instead, plan to meet a friend for a distanced walk or to watch a movie together online. “Choosing something you could enjoy a bit more is going to make it easier to stick to your plan.”
If you’re looking for more support in how to maintain sobriety over the holidays or feel triggered to drink in excess due to pandemic stress, schedule a therapy session with one of our qualified experts on the Inkblot platform. A healthy holiday and healthier coping strategies are in your future.
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