Does the Change of Seasons Affect Your Recovery?
With all the most difficult aspects of recovery and dealing with triggers, the changing of the seasons might not seem like a significant issue. However, for people with addictions any period of change can cause them to feel off balance. As the seasons go through a transition it can actually be a very vulnerable time for people in recovery.
For most people, the changing seasons can seem routine or even feel like a welcome change in weather. For those with addiction problems, different seasons can have certain associations for them. As the season changes they might be reminded of their old habits and how they used to behave during a particular season.
Transitioning to Different Seasons
People in recovery might associate summer and warm weather with having cold beers or margaritas to cool down and relax. They might think of summer as a time to cut loose and go to parties or bars to hang out with friends. People trying to stay on track with their sobriety could find summer and especially the transition into summer to be especially stressful as they have to fight more intense cravings and temptations.
The transition into fall and winter can also be difficult in recovery because people in some areas must deal with harsh weather, shorter days and more time indoors. Winter can be depressing for many people whether they are struggling with an addiction or not because of a darker sky and colder air. The holidays can be an especially painful time for people in recovery because they must deal with family issues, and confront a lot of the cravings that they might experience at holiday parties.
No matter what season is coming up, every individual experiences their own personal triggers, stresses and associations that can interfere with their recovery journey. It is important to be prepared for each season and find ways of coping with the changes in the weather, different holidays and certain memories from the past that come up. Every season has its own psychological effects and it can be helpful to come up with some strategies to help you through the changes.
How to Prepare for Seasonal Risks
Each season has its own particular risks and it is helpful to try to think about what aspects of a season might affect you beforehand. Preparing for change can help make the process a little less stressful and you can try to feel more centered and ready to meet the challenges that the season might bring. You can work with your therapist or recovery support group to come up with ideas on how to best prevent a relapse and stay focused on your sobriety throughout each season.
A good way to start coming up with strategies is to make yourself more aware of what risks each season might bring before it happens. Think about what associations you have with the upcoming season and how you might react when it comes up. Did you drink more during the summer or in the winter? Were there particular holidays or festivities that stand out when you think about the times when you were most addicted?
When you are more aware of your triggers it can help you from being caught off guard and put in danger of relapse. Once you have these things in mind you can start coming up with ideas to make them less stressful. If there is a certain holiday that you know will be problematic, you can start planning your own holiday event in advance and think of ways to engage in fun sober activities on that day.
If there are particular times when you think you might struggle during a certain season make sure to recruit help from people you trust. You can tell your sponsor or some of your other sober friends about the situation and ask them to support you during the tough times. Having someone there to talk to in times of need is crucial when you think your sobriety might be in jeopardy.
If you are particularly worried about specific events or family gatherings during a certain season then you should try to avoid them if at all possible. If simply not going isn’t an option then you can take a sober buddy with you to feel more comfortable and keep yourself in check. You should always have an exit strategy for any event where alcohol is involved by arranging a ride so that you can leave if things become overwhelming.
During recovery we long for consistency and familiarity but the reality is that things always change and come in cycles. The changing seasons can be stressful for people who are quitting an addiction but with some planning and strategy it is possible to become adjusted during every transition. If you need help during a seasonal change you can always find a local support group or treatment center that will give you the support you need.