How to Stay Sober During Painful Anniversaries


Staying focused on recovery from drugs and alcohol requires a person to utilize the ability to say “no” to temptation. Often, that temptation comes in the form of someone offering a substance to another. It also can result from cravings coming from old habits. A specific set of triggers can also come from painful anniversaries that come around each year.

These anniversaries can include:

  • The death of a loved one
  • A divorce
  • The loss of a job
  • The severing of contact with a friend or family member
  • Legal conflicts such as an arrest or jail time
  • A physical health crisis
  • Entering a treatment program

How to Prepare for Anniversary Reactions

The risk of relapsing when difficult anniversaries come around each year is common enough that it’s earned a nickname: “Anniversary Reaction.” What looks like just another day on the calendar for most people can have painful resonations for someone trying to hold onto their recovery.

A person at risk for an anniversary reaction should look for any oncoming signs of one. They should be aware of feelings of panic, sorrow, and anger. Generalized anxiety over the approaching date may manifest. Physical symptoms like disturbances in sleeping and eating patterns also may occur.

Having a plan to deal with anniversary reactions can help a person get through them with minimal impact. For some, making plans for the anniversary date to distract them proves helpful. For situations such as the death of a loved one, a person might feel more comfortable acknowledging that date. They might want to talk to others who knew their loved one, participate in an activity their loved one enjoyed, or visit their gravesite.

Building a support system of people who know the anniversary is approaching is essential. Helpful resources can include friends, family members, and treatment providers. With the right planning, a person can get through a painful anniversary with a low risk of relapse. Each accomplishment in this area helps prove that bad times do pass. It also shows how resilient people can be.

When painful anniversaries come around, they can threaten a person’s recovery. Preparing for them can help maintain your sobriety and success to avoid a detrimental “anniversary reaction.” The Detox Center of Colorado offers a professional support system for going through the detoxification process. We work with you to determine the best plan for your detox and continued treatment. Our high-level medical intervention and intimate, home-like environment help create a safe space for you to begin your healing. Call us now to find out how we can help you turn your life around! (303) 952-5035.

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