Maintaining Sobriety Through Painful Anniversaries

Traumatic life events can create gut-wrenching emotions; in fact, painful ordeals (such as losing a child, becoming divorced or getting diagnosed with a major illness) can take years to heal. Even after time softens the blow, the anniversary of that incident can trigger a flood of fresh feelings, such as the following examples:

  • Grief
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Fear
  • Loneliness
  • Loss of purpose

While these normal emotions often form on the anniversary of a loss, they can spell disaster for a recovering addict. When grief intensifies, then the desire for escape and relief can weaken one’s resolve to stay sober, which may lead to relapse. However, you can stay sober during a painful anniversary if you utilize the following tips:

  • Increase recovery meeting attendance
  • Share openly about your sadness, fear and anxiety
  • Be honest about your urges to use
  • Enlist the help of a mentor or addiction counselor who can refresh your coping strategies
  • Talk with a therapist
  • Create a new normal instead of trying to recreate the past
  • Stay on the lookout for depression or other stress-related disorders that could form as a result of remembering the event
  • Connect with others instead of isolating yourself
  • Volunteer as a way to channel your emotions constructively
  • Find creative outlets
  • Minimize stress with meditation or deep breathing exercises

If, despite your greatest efforts, you sense that slipping back into addiction is becoming a greater threat, then pay attention. A relapse may be around the corner if you behave in any of the following ways:

  • Overlook recovery routines, such as going to 12-Step meetings
  • Romanticize your drug-using days
  • Behavior becomes increasingly selfish and moody
  • Rationalize one drink or pill
  • Seek out former partying buddies
  • Get defensive when people ask questions about your shift in attitudes

Recovering from a loss does not happen overnight, on a straight path or at a constant pace; instead, it is a process that ebbs and flows. This point is essential to keep in mind as the anniversary of your traumatic experience approaches, especially as fluctuating emotions tempt you to use drugs again. It is easier to stay sober than it is to get sober, so do not waste the work you have already performed to get clean by relapsing.

Recovery from Addiction

If you or someone you love struggles with addiction, then know that help is available. Admissions coordinators at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can guide you to wellness, so do not go it alone when help is just one phone call away. Start your recovery now by making the call.

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