The opioid epidemic has hit Ohio hard and for those struggling to overcome addiction, the holidays can be a stressful time that is prone to relapse. Giving gifts and attending family celebrations can be overwhelming for someone whose main priority is avoiding withdrawal. Furthermore, the holiday blues can set in and substance abuse can be a tempting escape.
Ken Yeager, Ph.D., director of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Stress Trauma and Resilience (STAR) Program, has advice for those in recovery as well as their family members who may not fully understand the nature of addiction.
For those in recovery:
- Be aware of cross addiction and cross tolerance. Just because you are not taking opioids anymore doesn’t mean it’s okay to have a drink with dinner.
- If you are going to someone’s else’s home, ask that they remove medications from their medicine cabinets.
- Have an honest conversation with yourself. Can you handle asking people to hide their medications? Can you go to a party and avoid temptations?
- Pick a support person that you can rely on throughout the season.
For family members:
- Provide structure this holiday season that is supportive of recovery efforts.
- Set clear rules around alcohol at celebrations.
- Be certain to clean our medicine cabinets.
- Keep a close eye on the person in recovery. Be aware if they are nervous, agitated, sweating or pacing.
- Build in safe spaces and times for the person in recovery.
- Be aware of old behaviors, have frequent discussions about recovery and progress.
Information for this story was provided by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.