Valentine’s Day: The Trigger No One Sees Coming

Valentine’s Day is hard to ignore. Candy heart boxes are on shelves before Christmas. Balloons and stuffed animals have been on display everywhere since early January. For anyone whose addiction is wrapped up in a relationship, present or former, it’s time to plan now for February 14 so you can protect your sobriety and avoid being triggered into relapse.

Identify Valentine’s Day Triggers

What’s the biggest thing that bothers you about Valentine’s Day? Is it the pink and red decorations? The reminder of holidays past that weren’t bright spots in your life? Your biggest concerns could threaten your sobriety. Acknowledging potential problems is far better than trying to pretend your feelings aren’t happening.

Being alone. For some people in recovery, being single is the biggest gift they can have. For others, not having a significant other can lead to depression, loneliness, and isolation and trigger a relapse, especially when given a dual diagnosis. Plan for the night with a group of supportive, sober people.

TV night. It can be great to let yourself sink into a movie or TV marathon, but entertainment is designed to evoke feelings, so choose subject matter wisely. Skip heavy, romantic stuff and choose not to let yourself go to the dark side just because it’s Valentine’s Day.

Social media. It is far too easy to doomscroll social media. From TikTok to Instagram to Facebook, you’ll see real-time Valentine’s Day activities or memories of years past or memes that make you angry or sad. Anyone who has the strength to get sober can say no to social for one day and protect themselves. Comparing others’ lives to your own will steal your joy. You’re not missing a thing.

Romantic gestures. You’re still healing and learning to live again without alcohol or drugs. If you’re worried about receiving grand romantic gestures from others, be straightforward and let people know you’re not celebrating Valentine’s Day after holistic therapy – and that they won’t be receiving anything from you either. You can love people, but there is no pressure to act a certain way on February 14.

Sometimes it’s not what’s happening in the present moment that’s a problem, it’s what happened on past Valentine’s Days. Maybe you suffered disappointment because a partner came up short or expectations were unmet. Maybe the memories are about being in a bad place with substance abuse.

Prioritize Self-Love

Anyone who has worked hard in holistic therapy to recover from substance abuse doesn’t have to allow one excessively celebrated holiday derail that amazing progress. Sobriety is an achievement, detox is a survival journey, therapy of any kind – talk, art, equine – is the bravest endeavors. Valentine’s Day does not have to get in the way of sobriety success.

Anyone who is new to sobriety and has spent the past months working on themselves can continue to do so through Valentine’s Day. Whether you are single or not, you don’t need to feel like you’re missing a significant other on February 14 when there is always self-love, an essential piece of taking care of your sober self.

Stay busy. Whether you love to bake, work out, draw, or write, stay busy on February 14 – really busy – to keep your mind engaged and off the significance of the day.

Spend time with others. There is no need to schedule a date for Valentine’s Day. Rely on the people who support you most, whether that’s family, friends, sponsor, group, or otherwise. Eat together and enjoy each other’s company.

Keep it moving. Take time to nurture your body on Cupid’s birthday through a long walk, yoga classes, time at the gym, or whatever type of movement nurtures you. A body in motion is a healthy, focused, happy body, and you can get through any set of 24 hours with that kind of motivation.

Reach out. One of the worst things you can do in sobriety is keep your worries and fears to yourself. Should a trigger arise, address it with someone you trust and talk it through. Allowing any concern to fester on its own only gives power to potential relapse.

Lean on Real Love While in Recovery

Valentine’s Day is a time when people in recovery need an extra boost. Lean on your extended support group when you need it. Go to meetings, schedule an appointment with your therapist or counselor, let others know that you’re skipping the holiday and would appreciate if they don’t mention it to you.

Sometimes you may not even realize you’ll be triggered by Valentine’s Day until the holiday arrives or you see someone buying a bunch of flowers at the grocery store while you’re buying a few items to fill your fridge. Talking with others before, during, and after any major holiday gets a recovery plan in place so unwanted and unexpected triggers don’t win out when least expected.

Contact the holistic rehab center Beachside Rehab in West Palm Beach, Florida, to learn about our facility’s inpatient and outpatient drug and alcohol rehab, mental health treatment, holistic recovery, and luxury retreat. Call today at 866-349-1770 to speak with a trained admissions counselor.


Photo by Kostiantyn Li on Unsplash