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How to Deal with Holiday Addiction Triggers

Posted 11-20-2013 05:45 PM by ChristaIB
Updated 11-21-2013 04:18 PM by ChristaIB

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Addiction is a life-altering dependency on a substance or behavior that becomes compulsive, affecting every area of living from relationships to employment to health. Often times, people who live with addiction do not realize that their behavior has gotten past the point that they are able to control it. Whether the addiction is physical (such as to drugs or alcohol) or physiological (such as to gambling or shopping), addiction affects not only the individual, but also everyone around them.

The holidays are especially difficult for people living with an addiction. Depression is a common holiday addiction trigger, and people who are trying to recover may feel a familiar pull to return to old behaviors when the pressures seem overwhelming. It's important to be aware of what may trigger an addiction response so that trigger situations can be avoided. Keep in mind that addictions are behaviors that are out of control and that an addict cannot control the behavior without help.

Addiction Triggers

For many people, there isn't any one, specific holiday addiction trigger. With drug addiction, the brain and body chemistry are addicted as well as the mind itself, so the body will crave drugs; however, a physiological addiction is more complicated as it involves an addiction of the mind.

Psychologists note that compulsive, addictive behaviors can be triggered by emotional stress, financial pressures, complicated family relationships, depression or anxiety, loneliness and other negative feelings. The holidays are a time when a lot of people come together and the stress of so many social obligations can be too much for an addict to cope with.

Compound that with the stress of paying for gifts, travel expenses, food and other holidays-related costs, anxiety about how things will unfold, past issues and more, and an addict will face a constant struggle to keep away from compulsive behaviors and, without help, may eventually succumb.

How to Cope

Knowing what situations will trigger addictive behaviors is a key to avoiding problems. According to psychologists, addiction is something you recover from, not something you stop.

1. Be honest with yourself: Addicts often cover their behavior with lying--to themselves and others. Coping with addition means being honest that there is a problem and help is needed.

2. Learn new ways to deal: Many people fall into addictions because they had habits that got out of control – like drinking to relax or cope with stress or to forget. Replace old habits and ways of dealing with problems with new, healthy ones.

3. Avoid risky circumstances: People, places and things can all be triggers for addicts. If there is a specific person, a location or a circumstance that has been a trigger-point in the past, avoid it completely. Gracefully bow out of social functions that will cause problems and stay away from people who present stresses.

4. Be fearless about seeking intervention: Recovering from addiction is a life-long process, but accountability has proven to be one way to help keep addicts from relapsing. Alcoholics Anonymous and other relationship-based programs help addicts get through tough times, but putting them into healthy relationships where they can be honest about their struggles and seek helpful advice. Friends and family may also be an option if relationships are healthy and won't trigger addiction problems. Being able to lean on someone who can provide strength and support and understanding will help during times of weakness.

Many people don't understand addiction or what motivates an addict. Being aware of what behaviors are or may become an addition is a first step in recovering from life-controlling addictions. Remember, a habit is a choice, an addiction is not.

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Total Comments 1


  1. Old Comment
    If you know that walking by a bar is a definite trigger for you, for example, then do not knowingly walk by a bar to see if your recovery is as strong as you believe it to be. Maybe that time you are able to avoid going into the bar. But the seed of a trigger is planted. Something else you have not identified yet as a trigger can occur, and the combination can lead you right to a drink.

    There is no need to test yourself. When you identify your current triggers, are aware of what you are working with, practice a plan, and employ good self-care, you are managing your triggers during recovery from addiction.
    Posted 11-26-2013 at 05:02 AM by Laurel Clarke Laurel Clarke is offline

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