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Spending time with family during the holidays can be challenging. And being out-of-routine also can be difficult. If you fear this will trigger an addiction relapse, try making a First Aid Kit.

Basically, this Kit should contain anything that will stop you from old, unhealthy coping behaviors. Carry it with you at all times. Put the items in your cell phone for easy access.

Some ideas for your First Aid Kit for Relapse Prevention include:

  • Program Resources – If traveling, find 12-step meetings in the area. Make a list and plan to attend as many as you can. Take your Big Book and/or other program literature to read each morning and/or evening. Besides that, have a list of support people – especially your sponsor — and call at least one person every day.
  • A Letter to Yourself – Write a letter to yourself when you are in a stable and healthy place in your recovery. Tell yourself all the reasons why you want to stay sober. Remind yourself of all that you’ve gained in sobriety.
  • Excuses – Write a list of the major excuses you give yourself to justify your addiction. Next to each, write down the truth of your addiction. Remind yourself of the powerful denial that tells you it’s okay to use unhealthy behaviors.
  • A Reality List – Similarly, write a list of the major negative consequences you’ve suffered while in your addiction. Look at the impact on your relationships, finances and physical health.
  • Spiritual Reminders – Find books, inspirational passages, or meaningful podcasts that reconnect you to your Higher Power and your spiritual sobriety.
  • Photos – Most importantly, carry photos of loved ones for whom you want to stay sober. Include those who support your recovery. Be sure to have photos of those who would be hurt by your relapse.

New Leaf Center therapists can help you create a solid, relapse prevention plan for the holidays. As the long-time 12-step saying goes: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

Jackie MacKay, M.A., LMHC, NCC, CSAT