If you have a substance misuse problem then Christmas and New Year can be a very difficult time of year.

There is temptation lurking around every corner and if you are a recovering addict, you might worry that the round of festive parties and nights out could see you fall off the wagon. Alcohol in particular is often offered at many festive events making it difficult to avoid.

Christmas can also be a difficult, emotional and lonely time for many people which can make them more likely to start misusing drugs or alcohol again. And even if you are spending the holidays with your family, this can stir up old feelings and emotions which may make you more likely to give in to your cravings.

Here are our top tips for getting through Christmas and New Year:

  1. Don’t delay treatment

If you are planning to seek support or treatment for your addiction, it can be tempting to delay it until after Christmas and New Year. If you can, seek help straight away and don’t put it off.

  1. Go to recovery meetings

Make time to go to some recovery meetings and spend time talking to other recovering addicts. You will be able to share your experiences and support each other and you will be around people who understand exactly what you are going through. If you are visiting relatives in another area, find out about meetings you can attend near them and take the phone numbers of people you can reach out to and talk to if you feel like you are tempted to drink or abuse drugs. Both Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous have a search function on their websites where you can find details of meetings near you. Watching YouTube videos are reading articles about recovery may also help you stay on track.

  1. Lower your expectations

Any issues you had with your loved ones in the past are likely to still exist so don’t expect things to be completely smooth sailing throughout the festive period. People often fall into old habits or patterns of behaviour when they are back with their family so make a conscious effort not to raise to the bait and walk away if you feel yourself getting upset or angry. Remember that no one is perfect and cut other people a bit of slack as they may have their own problems they are busy dealing with. If you find yourself struggling, go for a walk to clear your head.

  1. Consider testing yourself

Many people decide to have just one drink or use one last time because they think no one will find out. If you have a partner or family member you can trust, you could ask them to test you for drugs or alcohol at random points in the holidays. If you know that any lapses will show up on the test and that your loved one will find out, this might be enough to discourage you from taking the risk. AlphaBiolabs sell a home drugs test kit which can test the urine for certain substances and produce a clear and accurate result in just five minutes.