Valentine’s Day can trigger the hopeless, lonely feeling that drives addicts to use drugs and alcohol.
This time of year, can be emotionally jarring for many of us. If you are an addict in recovery, it’s important to take steps to protect yourself from slipping. Many addicts fear loneliness and rejection because we have experienced so much abandonment by people in the past. Whether our own actions pushed people away or not, Valentine’s Day can be a keen reminder that our addiction is a lonely place to be.
Let’s talk about a few ways we can keep resisting those triggers, even when the annual celebration of romance has us feeling lost and low.
The Psychology of Valentine’s Day as a Trigger for Addiction
There is a reason why psychologists often say that newly recovered addicts shouldn’t date for a while. Every situation is different, and some of you may have done the work already in rehab with your spouse. However, for the single person in recovery, Valentine’s Day is the one day of the year when you feel that you are supposed to have a date. You are supposed to go out and celebrate love. When you don’t have this, it can be a harrowing, lonely experience.
Valentine Date Ideas that Avoid Alcohol and Drugs
When you do have this, you should consider dating ideas that avoid alcohol or drugs. Go out and do something fun together. Avoid restaurants and dates in bars. Check out experiences days on Red Letter or Buy a Gift instead. Go for high tea, go on a llama trek, or throw yourself out of a plane in a tandem bungee jump. All these things are memorable for the right reasons, instead of the wrong reasons.
What if you have no date?
Recovering addicts may feel intense pressure at this time of year because society expects us to be partnered up. Not all of us are, and that’s just fine. As we all know, loneliness is a recognised trigger for mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. Not only does it trigger these negative emotions, but those negative emotions in turn bring on the risk of relapse.
For that reason, we researched some of the best things you can do to avoid those feelings of loneliness this Valentine’s Day.
Enjoying Valentine’s Day Alone as a Recovering Addict
We want to go farther than staving off the blues that might trigger us. We want to turn this day of the year from something dreaded into something fun. If you simply want to get through the day, or if you are low on funds, then try the following things:
- Keep busy. Do your household chores or offer to do things for friends
- Do your weeks’ meal prep.
- Go pick up a nice meal for yourself at the supermarket.
- Plan an exercise class or visit the gym.
If none of the above are going to cut it for you, try focusing on the day with giving yourself an activity to look forward to.
Activities to Take your Mind off Drink or Drug use
Think about your hobbies and interests and book yourself an activity surrounding those. Try an art class, for example, or learn how to make pottery. You could book yourself a takeaway meal from your favourite restaurant or download your favourite film or tv show to watch in the evening.
You might go out into the countryside for a long walk, hike, or cycle. You could take a long evening drive to watch the lights over your city at night. Perhaps you could try something you have never done before, like archery, plate spinning, or axe throwing.
The point is that you remember those principles you learned during your recovery. If you are busy, you are not focused on those cravings for drugs or alcohol.
What to do if your think you might Relapse?
If you have tried all the above and you think you might relapse this Valentine’s Day, you can always call the team at Help4Addiction for a friendly, informal chat. We can offer support and advice, help you choose a rehab clinic that will get you back on track, and even just listen to you, if that’s all it takes to steer you back towards sobriety again. Call 0203 955 7700 for help.
Remember, one day of drinking doesn’t mean that you are back to how you were before. If you keep putting the work in, a single slip is just a blip on the road to recovery. Relapse isn’t the end of everything you’ve worked to achieve. Don’t be too hard on yourself and go back to your support system for help.