Seasonal Changes and Relapse

May 10, 2019

Did you know that seasonal changes can sometimes trigger a relapse? The weather can affect anyone’s mood, and people who experience addiction are often extra sensitive to change. Winter can be dangerous because it leads to more time spent indoors, and can be isolating. But as winter shifts to spring, people start feeling the desire—or pressure—to get out and socialize. Socializing can be a wonderful, helpful tool in recovery. Peer support, community engagement, and outdoor exercise are all healthy and supportive forms of socialization. But springtime also brings barbecues and beach parties, which can be laden with alcohol and other triggering substances.

Be Aware of Your Triggers When Making Plans

 When making your outdoor plans this spring, be careful to work around your triggers. If you can’t avoid, say, alcohol at all times (and let’s be realistic; in this world, you probably can’t), prep yourself before an event where you expect people to be drinking. If you’re doing a 12-step program, keep your sponsor on alert that you might be reaching out that day. It might also help to play out the tape. If you picked up a drink or drug at a Memorial Day barbecue, for example, what would that look like? Don’t stop at that evening—which could potentially be fine. Keep looking forward, to where that one night of drinking is likely to take you, based on your past. Are you likely to go out for drinks again the next night, eventually leading to a dangerous blackout? Could this be the trigger that sets off a heroin relapse. Everyone reacts to substances differently, but you know yourself, and what your triggers and limits are. Use your past experiences and your self-knowledge to guide the way you tread through events this spring.

Consider Recovery-Centered Springtime Activities

As the weather gets nicer, outdoor activities become more attractive. Although a lot of those do involve alcohol, many don’t. This could be a great time to take up hiking, or bird watching. Connecting with other people while out in nature is a beautiful, healthy, and sober springtime activity that can help you get out into the community while avoiding the pull of drugs and alcohol.

Change is stressful, and stress can be triggering. In particular, spring-related social rituals like barbecues and spring break can make keeping on track with your recovery especially trying. But it is possible to plan around recovery-centric activities. And remember: if you do have a slip, that doesn’t have to destroy all of your hard recovery work. Take a moment to learn from what happened. Where were you? What was happening both inwardly and outwardly? What steps can you take to avoid those pitfalls in the future? Don’t waste time with guilt; simply pick back up where you left off, and keep moving forward.

The Ammon Foundation believes that when individuals are holistically and strategically supported to build purposeful lives, the likelihood of them maintaining their recovery substantially increases. We provide this support via our two core programs – Ammon Recovery Scholars Program and Ammon Empowerment Workshop Program. To find out more about our programs, or to apply for an educational scholarship, please click here.