Being surrounded by your family can be very stressful and overwhelming. If you have recently completed an addiction recovery program, the situation can seem even more intense. You more than likely will feel as though people are judging or have to answer a million questions regarding your recovery process. Many people who are in recovery find family gatherings to be triggering for them. Some might even end up relapsing during the holiday season because of the stress they are under when it comes to being surrounded by family. Properly preparing before you were next family gathering can decrease the chances of you being triggered to relapse. Use the guide that follows to learn how to avoid being triggered at your next family gathering.

Know What Your Triggers Are

Before you even go to the family gathering, it is important to take the time to identify your triggers. Taking the time to assess what things create the urge to drink can help you to know how to avoid them when the time arises. Some people are triggered by certain conversations. Some people are triggered by being around alcohol and some people are simply triggered when they are surrounded by a lot of people at one time.

Establish What Your Triggers Are with Others

Once you know what things you feel are going to trigger you to want to drink, talk to the host of the event about them. This can help the person create an environment that is conducive to your sobriety. They may be able to create an alcohol-free gathering or steer conversations in different directions when they start to lean towards topics that make you uncomfortable. They can even simply create small gathering places throughout the event location. Letting the host know what things you feel could trigger you also provides you with a good opportunity to leave if something does arise.

If your family enjoys drinking at all gatherings, they may not be willing to ban alcohol from the event. If this happens and you think that you will not be able to avoid the temptation to drink, simply do not go. Let the host know why you feel that you cannot go to the event. Your family should understand that you are trying to protect yourself and avoid a relapse. If they don’t understand, it may be best for you to not be around them anyway.

Carry a Water Bottle Around with You

Believe it or not, it is possible for people to forget that you are in recovery. Seeing you carry around a water bottle may help to spark a memory in their minds. It also can serve as a reminder to you that you shouldn’t drink. If someone offers you a drink, you would have to put down the bottle of water which gives you time to consider your actions.

Be Willing to Talk Openly

While you do not have to answer a bunch of questions about your recovery, it is important to talk openly if issues arise. You need to be willing to let someone know that they are making you uncomfortable. This allows them the opportunity to change their behavior. It allows you to take control of the situation rather than allowing your triggers to take control. You can speak nicely and calmly to someone and there is a good chance that they will respond in the same way.

Create an Escape Plan

If you plan on going to the event was someone else, it is a good idea to discuss how you’re going to leave if something does arise. This may include coming up with a reason to leave. Creating a word or phrase that alerts the person that it’s time to go can make the process easier. You can also have a reason readily available to give to the host as to why you have to leave. Staying in an environment where you feel triggered could lead to you relapsing.

Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

If other people at the family gathering are drinking, it is attention to your surroundings. When people drink, they often start to behave differently than they do when they’re sober. When someone gets enough alcohol in them, they may start to pressure you to drink. People who do not have a problem with addiction do not understand how serious of an issue it is. They often think that someone can have one or two drinks and be fine, even if they are in recovery. This is not the case, though. If you are in recovery, you should not have anything to drink.

If you notice that people are starting to get overly intoxicated at your family gathering, you need to leave. This protects you from being pressured into drinking and keeps your family members from potentially being offended when you won’t drink with them.

Be Strong Enough to Leave

It’s important to remember that you have to care about yourself first. Sobriety is never easy and having to walk away from people you love can make the situation even more difficult. You need to be able to leave the situation right away even if it means not talking to people before you say goodbye. You can explain to them later on why you had to leave and protect your sobriety.

It’s important to remember that everyone has triggers. If you have a sponsor or go to group meetings on a regular basis, consider talking about the subject with others. They may be able to give you advice about how they handle these types of situations and provide you with the strength and comfort you need to get through a difficult time. You do not have to alienate yourself from the people you love if you are willing to set boundaries and stick to them. You really have to put yourself first when it comes to maintaining your sobriety and staying as healthy as you possibly can while you’re in recovery.

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