During recovery from a substance use disorder, the threat of relapse is ever-present. Many people who are in recovery may feel a heightened sense of stress over the holidays, and unchecked stress increases the risk of relapse.

Throughout the busy holiday season, it’s helpful to connect with support systems that bolster your commitment to recovery and help you alleviate the stress or negative emotions that may pop up during this time of year. Consider the following ways to engage with support systems so you can get the help you need to thrive during the holidays as you forge your path to long-term recovery.

Family Can Be an Excellent Support System

Connecting with family during the holidays is important to many people in recovery, but if relationships are strained, you may not be ready or willing to repair or rekindle these relationships. Consider connecting with a family member who can enhance your recovery journey rather than detract from it. There may be a parent, sibling or cousin who can support you when you’re feeling stressed, or they may simply make the holidays more special by being present in your life.

A Sponsor Is a Great Resource

A sponsor is an excellent support system that can be a lifeline for a recovering individual. Even if you think you’re doing okay, schedule a call with your sponsor just to check in. Maintaining this connection even during the good times may have a way of helping prevent or decrease the bad times. Your sponsor can help you navigate the ups and downs of the holiday season, ensuring that you don’t feel alone with your challenges or concerns.

Counselors or Therapists Can Help When Needed

During the holiday season, be sure to keep your appointments with your counselor or therapist. If you are feeling extra stressed, consider making an extra appointment. Maintaining your therapy is essential for preventing relapse. In fact, many recovering individuals prefer to continue with counseling long after their initial addiction treatment has been completed.1

Local Support Groups in Your Area

Keep in mind that there are other people struggling on their own road to recovery. Meeting with a support group will connect you to others who share your struggles and recovery goals. Sometimes you will need to rely on this group for support. Sometimes one of the group’s members will need you. You can stay active in local support groups indefinitely. Some groups may even plan special holiday get-togethers or parties that can help you enjoy the festive aspects of the season.2

Friends Are Support Systems Too

Some recovering individuals have had to shed unhealthy friendships. If you have a good friend, try to meet with them over the holidays. If necessary, travel to see them over a weekend or plan a special date with them. A healthy friendship is something that can enhance your recovery journey but also benefit other aspects of your life. It’s important to connect with people who bring positivity to your days.

Give yourself the gift of support over the holidays. Take advantage of the help that support groups can provide you with. These groups want to see you succeed and meet your goals for long-term sobriety. They can help you ward off relapse and make your holiday season brighter as well.


  1. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-howard-samuels/relapse-prevention_b_3326444.html
  2. https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/07/18/5-ways-to-avoid-addiction-relapse/