Painful anniversaries can trigger relapse if someone is unprepared to cope
Anniversaries cause people to be reminiscent, so anniversaries of negative events can cause a flood of painful emotions. For recovering addicts, painful anniversaries are major risks for relapse whether the memory is linked to the addiction or some separate issue. In fact, the event can trigger the following reactions:
- Preoccupation with the event
- Fear that the event may happen again
- Anger and frustration
- Guilt and shame
- Feeling lost or unsettled
To cope with painful feelings and memories, recovering addicts may be vulnerable to relapse by drinking, using drugs or engaging in damaging behaviors. To avoid relapse during painful anniversaries, recovering addicts should prepare to cope with such challenges.
One of the most important ways people can maintain sobriety though difficult times is to accept the fact that painful anniversaries will happen, and that recovery will be tested. When people know the risk for relapse exists, then they can prepare themselves for success. Recovering addicts must acknowledge their feelings and times of distress to deal with them healthily.
When painful anniversaries and events are near, then people cannot ignore their feelings, or else those feelings will linger. The best way to keep negative feelings from snowballing is to address them right away. If someone waits until she is overwhelmed with stress and anxiety, then the risk for relapse escalates. You can overcome a painful anniversary during addiction recovery in the following ways:
- Talk it out with a friend, therapist, sponsor, support group or etc. Eliminate unnecessary stressors and focus on basic self-care, such as getting enough sleep and rest, eating properly, getting physical activity and etc.
- Surround yourself with positive, supportive people
- Find an outlet to channel thoughts and feelings, such as journaling, painting, creative arts or physical activity
- Turn negatives into positives. Acknowledge negative feelings and memories instead of ignoring them. Think about what you are grateful for, like your accomplishments, your recovery goals and etc. Do not feel ashamed to ask for help and to admit when you are facing obstacles
With the right help, you can overcome painful anniversaries.