Michigan Psychodrama Center Suggests These 12 Steps to Avoid Relapse This Holiday Season

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The holidays are a particularly stressful and difficult time for many, and adhering to these 12 steps can help avoid relapse or otherwise falling into a perilous substance or situation

Dr. Elizabeth Corby

One of the delightful things about psychodrama is the adaptability of the method. I have utilized the method across the spectrum, including group therapy for addictive populations, and find it to be extraordinarily effective

The Michigan Psychodrama Center, located in Birmingham, Michigan, sees an uptick in people who are stressed, depressed and at higher risk of relapse to alcohol, drugs, eating, spending, gambling, and other addictions during the holiday season. “The holidays are a particularly stressful and difficult time for many, and adhering to these 12 steps can help avoid relapse or otherwise falling into a perilous substance or situation,” said Dr. Elizabeth Corby, one of the Center’s founding members.

1.    Avoid people places and things. Recognizing that relapse is a process of reverting to a learned behavior can make all the difference in terms of being in the driver's seat over the problem behavior. Learn to identify the what, who, and why of your relapse to then avoid the familiar traps associated with a return or increase in use.

2.    Develop a strategy. Related to #1 above, it is crucial to know thyself and to pattern a strategy to NOT relapse. To NOT plan to stay abstinent is to plan to lose control or to relapse.

3.    Make an appointment with your therapist. Or go to additional support (e.g., AA or group therapy) meetings. Or both.

4.    Attend a Michigan Psychodrama Center workshop. We offer numerous groups and workshops aimed at assisting those with addictive struggles, and the majority of our workshops provide an opportunity to participate in psychodrama. “One of the delightful things about psychodrama is the adaptability of the method. I have participated in use of psychodrama's methods and tools in group therapy for addictive populations, and find it to be extraordinarily effective,” said Dr. Corby.

5.    Address the emotional triggers that fuel out of control behavior. Many times, childhood pain surfaces during the holidays. Family get-togethers challenge most of us, but when there has been alcoholism, drug use, or other dysfunction in one's family environment, the feelings when seeing family members or reliving memories at this time of year can be overwhelming. Talk to "safe" others or a professional about these feelings, rather than numbing the pain with substances.

6. Exercise, do yoga or mediate. All of these activities boost the body's natural endorphin and sense of well-being and calm. Check your vitamin D levels, which when low can signal fatigue and bring on poor eating and sleeping habits.

7. Manage your expectations. Avoid Facebook and comparing yourself to others. Most people exaggerate their successes and avoid posting their difficulties. Don't fall into the trap of believing you are less worthy than others.

8. Volunteer. Assisting others who are in need, worshiping or serving at a spiritual institution or giving of yourself in other ways boosts the mood and shifts the focus from your own feelings.

9. Manage your thoughts. Read about cognitive therapy and learn how to spot cognitive distortions and re-frame them. One of the unique things about the Michigan Psychodrama Center is that we draw from a variety of tools and methods, including cognitive therapy, which blends wonderfully with psychodrama, said Dr. Corby, who is a Board Certified Cognitive Behavioral Therapist.

11. Maintain a priority on good eating and sleeping habits. Also, remember that this season is temporary. Staying centered, real and supported can help you ride out the urges and vulnerability to relapse and arrive on the other side of the season stronger than ever.

12. Practice good self-care. Prioritize your schedule, balance it, don't overdo it or over-promise to others. Perfectionism is the enemy to self-love. And, don't expect that you will feel festive just because it is the holidays. Allow yourself to be authentic and cry, write feelings in a journal, feel your frustration over the past and present, and feel down, so you can clear those feelings away for moments of joy that might pop up.

Following these 12 steps will help you gain resiliency and avoid falling into the traps and triggers that can lead to relapse, and will help insure a safe and happy holiday season.

The Michigan Psychodrama Center is dedicated to providing unique workshops, education and training in psychodrama, sociometry, sociodrama and bibliodrama methods and techniques. The Center will also provide business consulting, addiction support groups and training for those wishing to become certified practitioners in psychodrama. Additionally, the Center will provide workshops related to the application of psychodrama and sociodrama to the practice of law, particularly as that relates to courtroom litigation.

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Elizabeth Corby, PhD
@PsychodramaMI
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Michigan Psychodrama Center
since: 01/2015
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