Special to the Village News
Some may consider Valentine's Day the most romantic day of the year, while others not so much. However, for someone new to sobriety and in recovery from addiction, it can be a day that triggers bad memories and cravings.
Valentine's Day can also be tiresome, whether you are bitter about love and romance or not. The fuss over the day can become quite intense. Unfortunately, the general message of the day places importance on the shallower side of what it means to love and adore someone.
Someone in recovery from addiction who is not in a romantic relationship may feel left out or is dealing with past experiences that could trigger a relapse. Fortunately, there are practical ways to maintain sobriety during this heavily marketed, love-fueled day.
Initially, someone can start by countering the culture and making the day their own. If you place significance on the day, create your own traditions with your kids, parents, friends, or family members. Use the day as an opportunity to celebrate other forms of love.
If you do not place any significance on the day but are worried about triggers, have a safety net in place and effective ways to manage stress.
Suppose there are particular situations or a group of people that really put you on edge. In that case, you have every right to avoid it or them. It is ok to set boundaries, especially during times of the year that can be particularly triggering for relapse.
"It can often be individuals or memories of individuals that trigger relapse on Valentine's Day," said Michael Leach of Addicted.org (https://www.addicted.org). “Many former addicts have experienced painful and destructive relationships while using drugs; managing these triggers and stress healthily is important.”
Secondly, avoiding alcohol cravings is critical, even if alcohol was not your drug of choice. Days like Valentine’s Day are often filled with excuses to drink alcohol, and often in excess. Attend some meetings if that is your thing but avoid alcohol cravings by staying active and busy.
In addition, if you are spending the day with someone or other people, plan sober activities. There are plenty of activities that do not involve alcohol. This would even be an excellent time to contact a sober friend.
Finally, avoid social media and unplug. If seeing endless photos of couples on your feed drives you up the wall, take the time to unplug and stay distracted. It is too easy to become consumed by what we see on social media and convince ourselves this is real life.
Focus on more productive tasks and lean on support when you need it. Having a good support system is essential. Spend time with other sober and single friends. Being around others in the same situation as you will help you see that this day does not need to be that bad.
Marie Garceau has been working in the field of substance use and addiction recovery for over a decade. Her primary focus is to reach out to the community and spread awareness. She does this to educate others about the dangers of drug use and to help prevent individuals from using drugs.