The anniversary of a loss or painful experience can bring up difficult memories. It may be triggering for someone in recovery to want to use drugs or alcohol to numb that pain. With the right tools, that person can learn how to navigate it and stay sober. Every day is one step away from addiction, but people can always fall back into old habits when triggered by painful memories. Finding support is critical during this time. Learn more about navigating difficult anniversaries while trying to stay sober.
Loved ones and friends are the best kinds of support when painful memories come back up. Every year on the same day, or the same holiday, may be the time when things come up that remind an individual of their past. It does not mean going back down and revisiting everything that happened, but some memories may stand out more strongly than others, making it hard to get through alone. Spending time sharing with someone about it can be helpful. It may also be good to be in a recovery group or community of supportive individuals who allow vulnerability. Seeking a space like this can be helpful in not feeling triggered enough to want to risk losing sobriety over the anniversary.
Avoid Going Back
The past is the past for a reason. It is not meant to be drug into the present and future. For a time, it is necessary to revisit some old memories as they arise to deal with them, but not to dwell on them so much they remain part of the life story a person tells themselves over and over. This can be reliving the trauma and might make it harder to recover and heal. Some other things that can be helpful when an anniversary comes around that are hard to deal with:
- Stay offline to avoid memory posts or remembrances being a trigger
- Don’t rewatch videos, look at pictures, or dwell on memories of the event or person
- Speak to a counselor or therapist for running thoughts
- Switch off external sources like news, television, or shows that might trigger the same feelings and thoughts as the loss
Learning to Cope
The biggest challenge with learning to cope is recognizing that all the efforts a person makes might mean it is necessary to deal with the tragedy head-on. Even if it means sitting with a mentor or counselor, it is better to be with someone who can help than suffer alone in silence. They may even be able to help find ways that honor and celebrate the person or experience, rather than let it remain a struggle every time an anniversary comes up. There is hope for healing in recovery from these memories. It may take time to integrate them into the person’s story, but it is possible to find hope after tragedy.
Difficult anniversaries can be triggering. No matter what you are doing, it is important to find meaning in moving forward from the past as much as possible. We can help you learn tools that support you in the journey of recovery. We are located in beautiful Laguna Beach. Call us to find out how we can help you navigate addiction recovery: 888-981-4295