Drug and Alcohol Relapse Rates Spike 150% during the Holidays

The holidays are a time for people to rejoice and relax. “However, for individuals in recovery from an addiction to alcohol or drugs, it can be a trying time,” said Indra Cidambi, M.D., a pioneer in addiction treatment. Consequently, relapses are more frequent. At Center for Network Therapy (CNT) pre-holiday re-admit rates (of past patients) usually hovers around 25% of admissions, but it jumped to over 60% after Thanksgiving, suggesting an increase of over 150%.

Some major causes for this jump include:

  • Interpersonal Conflicts: Holidays are a time for extended families to get together, bringing family conflicts and resentments to the surface. Anger and frustration caused by these situations is one of the biggest drivers of a relapse.
  • Gift Stress & Financial Strain: “Legal charges incurred while abusing substances dog individuals in recovery, preventing them from getting back to their former income level,” said Dr. Cidambi Consequently, buying gifts causes financial pain and, when coupled with the stress of finding something for everyone, could trigger relapse.
  • Holiday Blues: Individuals in recovery have worked hard to change people, places and things they associate with. As a result, they may not have the same social calendar they did while using. The holidays also bring back memories of great times they had as children or broken relationships due to overindulgence. “The loneliness and melancholy are triggers for relapse,” said Dr. Cidambi.

“Recovery must address multiple facets,” Dr. Cidambi explained and recommended some tips to stay on track:

  • Focus on Yourself: “Individuals in recovery are vulnerable and need to focus on safeguarding their sobriety,” said Dr. Cidambi. This includes going to AA Alkathons before and after an event, ensuring their sponsor is available for support, or having an escape plan that enables them to leave the gathering at any time. “It is important to remember that achieving sobriety was hard and it is the most precious commodity for them,” she explained.
  • Discount Others: “As is common in family gatherings, everyone delves into everyone else’s business,” said Dr. Cidambi. Recovery, however, should not be a topic of conversation. “An individual with a past history of drug or alcohol abuse should expect to deal with residual anger or resentment due to their past behavior,” said Dr. Cidambi. It is important to maintain composure and let go of resentment when confronted. What others think about them is not important at this juncture.
  • Find an Activity: Try to plan activities that take your recovery into account. It may be an AA/NA event or some activity with the individual’s sponsor, so that the individual is socially active during the holidays and not isolated. “Loneliness is a trigger,” said Dr. Cidambi.

Indra Cidambi, M.D., Medical Director, Center for Network Therapy, is a pioneer in Addiction Treatment. She introduced the Ambulatory Detoxification model for treating withdrawal from Alcohol, Benzodiazepines, and Opiates. She has a fellowship in addiction from NYU/Bellevue and is board certified in Addiction Medicine and Psychiatry.

About Center for Network Therapy
Center for Network Therapy (CNT) was New Jersey’s first facility to be licensed to provide Ambulatory (Outpatient) Detoxification for all substances of abuse – alcohol, anesthetics, benzodiazepines, opiates and others. Led by Board Certified Addiction Psychiatrist, Indra Cidambi, M.D., experienced physicians and nurses closely monitor each patient’s progress. With CNT’s superior client care and high quality treatment, Dr. Cidambi and her clinical team have successfully detoxed over 1500 patients in four years.

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