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Navigating Holidays

Editor, News-Register:

I am a Care Coordinator from BreakThru at WVU Reynolds Memorial Hospital. I write to you offer tips for those in recovery from substance use disorder to help them navigate through the holidays. Gatherings with family, friends, or co-workers can prove challenging to those in recovery both new and old. We want to support those in recovery and their loved ones. The tips we offer include:

1. Avoid Known Risks: Don’t be afraid to skip something that might put your recovery in jeopardy. Replace it with another event even if it’s going out for hot chocolate with a friend!

2. Have a Strategy: If you know you will be surrounded by those using substances or potential volatile situations. It is suggested to have an exit plan — leave early if need be, attend the event with someone else in recovery, call a counselor or sponsor before, during or after the event, and/or attend drug free events in your community.

3. Manage Expectations: Realize everybody can be experiencing stress during the holidays and the day may or may not go as planned. Everybody has expectations and emotions connected to holidays. We all have positive and negative holiday memories and experiences. If you notice you are dwelling on the negative, adjust your thinking. Be open to change; roll with it.

4. Be Helpful: If you help those around you and focus on their needs, it will put things in perspective. You might help in the kitchen, set the table, clean up or play with the kids. Some choose to volunteer for a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Reaching out to others in recovery who might be struggling as well, is a good strategy.

5. Pay Attention: Be aware of your drink, food and those around you. Nothing can put a damper on the day like accidentally drinking or eating something with alcohol or another substance in it.

If relapse happens and you need help, CALL BreakThru at 304-221-4528. After hours, you may call the HELP 4 WV phoneline and they can contact our staff. If you are in a crisis situation, go to the WVU Reynolds Memorial Emergency Room.

Martha Polinsky

Care Coordinator, BreakThru at WVU Reynolds Memorial Hospital

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