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Festive season not so merry for recovering addicts

Take care of yourself by getting enough rest, sleep, exercise and nutrition.

During the festive season, it is especially challenging to stay clean or sober.

“Emotions, stress and exposure leave those suffering from a substance abuse disorder vulnerable and loved ones should be extra supportive,” said Karen Griessel, a social worker at Wedge Gardens rehab centre.

“For many families, this time of the year is even more difficult due to the losses and pain caused by active addiction. Having to manage expectations to be a loving festive family can add stress and anxiety.

“Another issue that causes distress is the expectations of loved ones that those in recovery be happy when the reality is that they are trying to cope without using substances. This is a huge challenge for the individual. Loved ones need to be empathetic and show restraint and understanding,” said Griessel.

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“Possible relapse is also at the back of everyone’s minds and therefore an active relapse prevention plan is always a good idea. The truth is that alcohol consumption increases over this time and even innocent acts like cooking with alcohol can be a trigger. All round, self-care for everyone involved is essential to keep things calm emotionally.”

Practical tips:

  • Attend support groups like AA, NA or Alanon.
  • Be accountable by talking to a sponsor, therapist or trusted friend.
  • Give of yourself by being of service to others.
  • Do good, like going to the SPCA to give food or walk a dog.
  • Avoid people who are judgemental or will make you uncomfortable.
  • Take care of yourself by getting enough rest, sleep, exercise and nutrition.
  • Have a recovery kit like the AA book, journaling and other recovery books.
  • If you attend holiday parties, get there early, leave early and bring your own drinks.
  • Have an exit plan for any uncomfortable risky situation you find yourself in.

For further information, contact Wedge Gardens at 011 430 0320 or visit the website www.wedgegardens.co.za

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 or Miné Fourie (journalist) minev@caxton.co.za

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