Midlife crisis is a very real thing, but have you heard of midlife addiction? 

The development of an addiction in midlife is not always the result of a “midlife crisis,” but the addiction in and of itself is definitely a midlife crisis. While there are some aspects of addiction that are fairly universal regardless of age, there are different factors at play in this stage of life than in the 20-something phase or senior (60+) phase.

Holidays are experienced differently by people who are in recovery from addiction, and also differently still by those who are in midlife and recovering from addiction. While it’s normal to experience some level of stress during the holidays, you need to be more mindful of your stress levels during this season, as well as know how to navigate holiday triggers when they arise.

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at what it’s like for adults in midlife to handle different holiday triggers, as well as give you the best tips for staying sober during the holidays.

What are holiday triggers?

Triggers themselves are things (people, emotions, environments) that threaten your sobriety. 

Perhaps it’s an “old friend” who is still actively using the substance you’re in recovery for; it could be a family member who doesn’t understand addiction, and regularly does or says things that ignite strong emotions in you.

Emotional triggers are when you are emotions that lead you to want to relapse. Certain people may elicit feelings of wounded pride or anger; you might experience a moment of deja vu or find yourself in an uncomfortable or stressful situation that’s tempting you to relapse.

Environmental triggers are some of the most influential triggers we experience because often, environments seem to be inevitable. Maybe you are moving back in with a family member or friend who isn’t the best for your mental health, or maybe a toxic or high-stress work environment is a large contributor to your mental health struggles.

Holiday triggers include all of the above (and more), just during the holiday season. 

Triggers specific to midlife

In addition to the triggers we just mentioned, people in midlife can experience triggers around life events or circumstances that are unique to their phase of life. 

The most common of these triggers include:

  • Aimlessness or loss of purpose (especially after children have grown)
  • Frustration with natural physical, mental and life changes
  • Boredom or dissatisfaction in personal relationships, career or life overall
  • Heightened insecurities around appearance and age
  • Consistent thoughts around death, life, religion and other existential concepts 
  • Children going through major life changes (moving out, marriage, having children)
  • More frequent (sometimes) deaths of family members and friends

It’s important to remember that what you’re going through is natural and valid no matter what others think, or if they tell you that you should be feeling or acting a certain way at this stage in your life.

Tips for staying sober

We’ve compiled the below tips as a sort of mini-guide for you to follow as you work on staying sober during the holidays.

1. Validate your own experience

No two people go through life the same; you could view two adults who both went to college, got married and each had three children, and they will have still lived two completely different lives. What you are going through is no less important or real than someone else’s midlife recovery experience; the first step to navigating holiday triggers is to remember and accept that.

2. Reinvent or release relationships

At this stage in your life, especially coming out of an addiction, you’re probably ready to be surrounded by healthy, happy, wholesome relationships. There’s nothing wrong with performing an honest assessment of the people you surround yourself with; some relationships may need to be revived through more effort and more quality time, while it might be time to release others.

3. Take care of your health

Midlife is full of changes, and while change always offers us the opportunity to grow, it also provides us with the opportunity to regress and cause further pain ourselves. Massive life changes are common in midlife, such as divorce, children growing, illnesses and deaths of loved ones. Mental health care is equally as important in this stage as it is in any other.

4. Seek help when you need it

Silver Ridge Recovery is a premier drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in North Carolina, specializing in providing addiction treatment for midlife adults seeking healing and peace.

We fully tailor each of our treatment plans to your individual situation and needs, so as to provide the highest level of care possible. Our team of experienced professionals is fluent in providing mental health and substance use support and care, and we even have a chef on staff to meet any dietary needs or preferences you may have.

We know that the decision to seek help doesn’t always happen within business hours, which is why our admissions team is available 24/7. When you’re ready to talk, we’re ready to listen.

Submit a confidential form or call our team directly at 855-945-7788 to get started today.