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The period running up to and culminating at New Years Eve is a time of year that generally sees an increase in alcohol and drug abuse and even relapse. There are many factors that contribute to this including a person’s social group, genetics, job stability and satisfaction, and physical and mental health. We can all agree that during this season everything ramps up as our schedules get busy with parties, travel, over commitment at work to finish up projects, and an increased level of expectation everywhere we turn. For anyone trying to stay clean, the traditional holiday customs and memories of years past might trigger depression or urges to break sobriety just “once”.

The best thing you can do to avoid this during the holidays is to take care of yourself! Consider your own needs first and allow yourself time to rejuvenate each day with some quiet and rest. Although you may not want to miss out on the festivities, don’t try to go to events in which there will be drinking and drugs that you know will leave you feeling vulnerable. Or, if you do choose to plow ahead, bring a sober companion who will support you through a tempting night. Surrounding yourself with good friends who want the best for you is crucial and it’s also a good time to go to more group meetings, try therapy, read inspirational books and take an online alcohol and drug education program to remind yourself why you have made this life change.

Honestly, any type of addiction is hard to overcome, however, some more than others. The top most highly addictive drugs to absolutely stay away from because they make the individual want to continue taking them, create increased tolerance levels, cause serious damage physically and mentally, and have severe withdrawal symptoms that make it painful to quit include:

1. Heroine. This opiate is converted to morphine when it hits the brain, reducing pain and causing pleasure almost instantly. The high generally lasts for 2 – 5 hours and can cause serious physical side effects like nausea, slowed breathing, hypothermia and an irregular pulse rate. Its use actually changes the way the brain functions and easily creates the desire for more.

2. Crack cocaine. Smoking crack causes a fast high that only lasts for about 10 minutes. Its intense euphoric effect is short lived and many users binge on it to sustain the high for longer. It also increases body temperature as well as blood pressure and heart rate.

3. Crystal methamphetamine. It copies the high that you get from the natural chemical dopamine combined with the increased alertness of norepinephrine which causes your neurons to increase the release of both. It ultimately results in the overall decrease of the amount your body produces, which in turn makes you crave more meth. It causes insomnia, psychosis, mood swings, incoherent thinking patterns and even hallucinations. A major problem with this drug is that it is relatively inexpensive and easy to find.

Just a single dose of these drugs can start some people on a slippery path. Stay healthy and safe this holiday season by maintaining your disciplinary schedule, filling any extra time with helping others, and creating new sober traditions to redefine your holiday season.