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Relapse Prevention During the Holidays
Presented by: Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes
Executive Director, AllCEUs

A counseling continuing education course on this topic can be purchased at

~Define Relapse
~Identify exacerbating and mitigating factors for relapse
~Explore unique relapse triggers and traps during the holidays

What is Relapse
~Relapse is the recurrence of symptoms
~Relapse warning signs are when the person starts down that path

Relapse Warning Signs
~Living mindLESSly
~To avoid feelings
~To get approval / not disappoint
~Sleeping too much or too little
~Eating too much or too little
~Failing to relax and include pleasurable activities
~Getting stressed over things you cannot control
~Withdrawing from positive social support

Unique Triggers Around Holidays
~Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years
~Family and social gatherings
~Abundant food and drink
~Lots of additional time demands
~What do I have to be thankful for?!?!
~Beaver Cleaver Christmas
~Reminders of losses
~Financial stresses
~Another year SSDD

Unique Triggers Around Holidays
~Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years
~Family and social gatherings
~If you have to be there, figure out how to cope with the people you don’t want to be around
~Positive mantras
~Don’t give them your power and reward them by feeding in
~Rehears coping strategies and refusal skills
~Identify 2 or 3 people you want to shadow
~If it is an unsafe situation
~Rehearse how to politely decline an invitation
~Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind (Dr. Seuss
~Identify a legitimate reason you cannot go

Unique Triggers Around Holidays
~Invitations always ask for a +1
~People are shopping for everyone else
~Shop for the less fortunate
~People are going to family gatherings
~Find other people without a place to go and invite them over*
~Go hiking
~Commune with your higher power
Unique Triggers Around Holidays
~Abundant Food and Drink
~Don’t go famished
~Stay as far away from the buffet table as you can
~Eat mindfully if you have to eat
~Avoid eating out of stress
~Choose lower calorie options
~Get very small helpings
~Bring a lower calorie dish to potlucks
~Actively sip on water or low calorie drinks
~Have a battle buddy
~Play the tape through
~Cook at your own house (and send the leftovers away)

Unique Triggers Around Holidays
~Time Demands
~Time management is a priority
~What can you let go to make time for the seasonal demands
~You don’t have to stay for hours
~What Do I have to Be Thankful For?
~Volunteer at a soup kitchen or habitat for humanity
~Hand out blankets to the homeless
~Go to a meeting/ 12-step celebration
~Review your gratitude journal
~Visit the sick*

Unique Triggers
~Beaver Cleaver Christmas
~What is it about it that you envy?
~How can you meet those wants?
~Avoid holiday specials that will get you upset
~Reminders of losses
~Even years after a death, holidays can remind you of someone.  How can you celebrate them?
~Try to focus on what you have and where you want to go
Unique Triggers
~Financial stresses
~Identify free activities
~Make something for someone (crafts, pictures, picture books, slideshows, humor book, digital scrapbook)
~Explore why material possessions are important to you and whether that is in your top 3-5 values
~Another year SSDD
~Identify what you want to be different next year
~Learn how to set SMART goals
~Identify reasons past goals have failed and address them
~Learn how to maintain your motivation

Prevent Vulnerabilities
~The risk of relapse will decrease as people’s capacity to self-regulate thinking, feeling, memory, judgment, and behavior increases.
~Leading up to the holidays get plenty of rest
~Don’t like crowds, shop early and/or online
~Identify what has to be done and make a plan
~Don’t grocery shop hungry
~Schedule in FUN
~Reach out to social support…even online

~Media tells people that this “should be” the happiest time of the year
~Holidays highlight losses, loneliness, financial stresses
~Relapse prevention involves
~People knowing what their first signs of relapse are
~Preventing getting rundown and vulnerable
~Setting healthy boundaries
~Addressing issues of rejection, isolation and failure
~Setting positive, proactive goals

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Nurses, addiction and mental health counselors, social workers and marriage and family therapists can earn continuing education credits (CEs) for this and other course at:

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AllCEUs has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6261. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC Credit are clearly identified. AllCEUs is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.

AllCEUs is also approved as an education provider for NAADAC, the States of Florida and Texas Boards of Social Work and Mental Health/Professional Counseling, the California Consortium for Addiction Professionals and Professions. Our courses are accepted in most states through those approvals.