Battling addiction during the holiday season

Battling addiction during the holiday season

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The holidays can be difficult time for anyone, but especially those who are struggling with addiction.

Addiction is an illness, a neuro-biological disease that in 2016 impacted over 20 million Americans, according to this National Survey on Drug Use and Health report.

Just last year in Virginia, more than 1,400 people died from a drug overdose, an increase of 38 percent from 2015.

A new addiction treatment center in Richmond, Calyx Recovery, says those suffering with an addiction need to make a plan for the holidays in order to not relapse. They recommend planning out your AA and outside recovery meetings.

"Another good holiday tip is to go late or leave early," said Natalie Waters, the corporate director of Clinical Services at Calyx Recovery. "So if your holiday event starts at 3 p.m., but you don't start eating until 5 p.m., go at 4:30 p.m. If it ends at 8 p.m. and usually people stay and drink and go until midnight, leave at 8 p.m. And if it's that uncomfortable, bring a sober friend."

Calyx Recovery opened on Sept. 11 of this year near Chippenham Hospital. It is an outpatient addiction recovery center with programs, an on-site lab, counseling offices and a space for group meeting and education.

Holidays can often be a train wreck for those in recovery. Other family members may have addiction, old hurts and misdeeds get brought up and a lot of drug and alcohol use often occurs.

Below are a few supportive and practical tips for maintaining sobriety throughout the holidays.

Find meetings and attend
Whether you are going to a new city or going or staying home for the holidays, finding local recovery meetings before you go is key. This will help you plan your day and fill any empty time where boredom may creep in.

Surrounding yourself with others in recovery will increase your chance of staying sober. If you are in a new city, meetings will provide you with a group of people who you can rely on and call if needed throughout your holiday. Having this list beforehand may also be lifesaving in times when you may need to leave a party or situation in a hurry.

Ask for help  
Do this before you attend the event or put yourself in any risky situation. It is best that you have this plan with someone who knows about your addiction and what your recovery entails. Some people like to have a safety word that if used means "I need to step outside or leave now."

This person needs to be reliable and ready to be there when you need them. Having this one person is beneficial especially if all of your family and/or friends aren't aware of your situation.  If this person is not able to attend the event with you, make sure that you are checking in with them throughout the event.

Have a list
Have a list of 10 people that you can call that you know you can count on. These need to be people who understand recovery and addiction and can be there to provide support.

Replace old traditions
Use this time to replace old traditions like attending a friend's party or going to a bar with a new healthy tradition. These may include things such as going on a walk, visiting a relative that you rarely see and enjoy spending time with, playing with nieces, nephews or friends children, going to a movie, etc.

Go later, leave earlier
If there is a situation where you are unsure of, go later than usual.

Live one day at a time
This is the motto for anyone in recovery: take everything one day, one minute, one second at a time and enjoy being sober and living in recovery.

Daily gratitude
Every morning when you wake up, do something positive for your recovery. This could be as simple as writing down 10 things that you are grateful for, reciting the serenity prayer, 10th step inventory, going to a meeting, sending a text or call to a sober friend, etc.

Take a friend
Bringing another recovering person who has a solid recover along to family/friend events. Not only does this provide you with great company but also a great support system if an urge, craving or trigger does occur.

For more information on Calyx Recovery contact 804-409-8080 and visit

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