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Danger, Danger the holidays are challenging times for the treatment of Substance Abuse

Holiday seasons and the celebrations that come with them are difficult for people in recovery. Many things can happen to increase the risk of relapse. Addiction is considered a progressive-relapsing disease, and recovery from addiction is challenging to the most motivated of drug abuse individuals. Drug abuse is more prevelant this time of year and we are providing a tool to help you look for signs and symptoms that a relaps may be impending. It is adapted from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) tool addressing the Holidays

Review the list below and check the items that might cause problems for you and your recovery program during the holidays. Then total up the number of checkmarks and assess your relapse risk below:

        • More alcohol and drugs at parties

Shortage of money because of travel or gift buying

More stress caused by hectic pace (for example, traffic, crowds)

Normal routine of life interrupted

Stopping exercise

Not going to AA or NA meetings

Not going to therapy

Party atmosphere

More contact with family

Increased emotions from holiday memories

Increased anxiety regarding triggers and craving

Frustration of not having time to meet responsibilities

Coping with “New Year’s Eve” type occasions

Extra free time with no structure


How did you do?

Mild: If you checked one to three items, the holidays produce only a slightly increased risk of relapse.

Moderate: If you checked four to six items, the holidays add a lot of stress to your life. Relapse risk is related to how well you cope with increased stress. Your score indicates that you need to plan carefully for your recovery during the holidays.

Severe: If you checked seven or more items, the holidays add a major amount of stress to your life. Relapse prevention means learning how to recognize added stress and taking extra care during dangerous periods. Your score indicates the holidays are one of these periods for you.