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Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Friday, December 16, 2016

Make Sober Holidays a Reality

By: Jaime W. Vinck, MC, LPC, NCC, Chief Operations Officer for Sierra Tucson

While many of us grow excited about the holiday season and the celebrations and traditions that consume us, the holidays can be overwhelming for some.  The events of the season can impose temptations and challenges for recovering addicts, especially those with co-occurring disorders, such as depression, anxiety, grief, trauma, and codependency, which can be heightened by the festivities that surround them.

During this time of year, holiday blues are often more appropriately described as situational depression, and can be significantly reduced by following these three prevention tips:

1.      Face depression and addiction realities as a family

a.       During this holiday season, let us be mindful of these people and the addictions and emotions they battle against.  Whether you know somebody who is still battling an addiction or somebody that is in recovery, make the effort to be considerate of what they are going through. 
b.      Whether a drug, alcohol, food or other addiction, a person recovering from such will need extra support during the holiday season.  Try to be mindful of the unique struggles associated with your loved one’s individual addiction by offering support.  It will make a difference that could positively impact the New Year for them.
c.       These times can present anxiety and tension.  Showing love, care and concern during this intense time can make a huge difference to somebody struggling.

2.      Avoid emotional drains

a.       Simply by choosing more positive friends, a positive environment, and uplifting activities, it can reduce depression.
b.      Avoid Alcohol - Alcohol can exacerbate any feelings of situational depression while drinking, and even the day after. Many use alcohol to numb the pain or sorrow of depression when it actually makes it worse.
c.       Avoid Sugar Binges – Eating too many cookies and cakes can create feelings of lethargy, similar to an emotional crash.
d.      Avoid over-spending – The rush of giving extravagant gifts can backfire with depression when the bill arrives after the holidays.
e.       Avoid resentments - Holding resentments is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Invite Uncle Bob to a holiday dinner even if there was tension last year. Look at what can be done before family gatherings to let go of the tension. Clearing emotional space will make for a more pleasant time with those family members.

3.      Replace addictions with healthy habits

a.       In addition to avoiding energy drainers, recognizing weaknesses and replacing them with positive activities is another great way to stop holiday blues.
b.      Instead of drinking that bottle of wine, try a yoga or art class instead.
c.       Over the holidays, volunteering to help those less fortunate also is very therapeutic.

Jaime Vinck joined Sierra Tucson in August 2014 as Chief Clinical Officer. She oversees the complete program design and provisions in management for all Sierra Tucson programming, including Family Therapy, Primary Therapy, the Therapeutic & Recreational Activities Program, Continuing Care, Integrative Therapies, and Residential Therapies. Jaime takes great pride in the quality of resident care that Sierra Tucson provides and in being a part of the multidisciplinary team of professionals in which therapists, psychologists, and staff work together to provide the best treatment for residents. In December 2015, Jaime was promoted to Chief Operations Officer, where she continues to be responsible for clinical services, as well as strategic direction and creating the overall resident experience.Prior to joining Sierra Tucson, Jaime served in a number of positions with Journey Healing Centers from 2006-2014, including Outpatient Services Director and Corporate Clinical Director. She also began her own private practice in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2007, where she continues to focus on couples and families struggling with addiction and mental illness.Jaime is a Certified Equine Interaction Professional (CEIP), with a specialization in mental health, and has recently been elected to the Board of Directors of CEIP.Jaime received a Bachelor of Arts in Employee Relations at Michigan State University and a Master of Arts in Counseling at Ottawa University.