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Holidays carry higher risk of relapse for those battling addiction

Experts said there is advice we all should be aware of when it comes to substances and the holidays.

The holidays mean family, fun--and lately a blast of wintry weather. But for those struggling with addiction, it's also a dangerous time. 

"Relapse is a higher risk just because of the prevalence primarily of alcohol and other drugs and then families get together, so there is a lot more tension around the holidays," Bill Lee, an assistant program manager at Cornerstone of Recovery, said. 

The Knox County DA said November is already the second-deadliest month for overdoses so far this year. 29 people had OD related deaths--a number likely to go up in the coming days. 

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Lee also speaks from personal experience, he's been sober for more than 35 years. 

"If I don't stay in recovery than the likelihood of getting along with my family becomes sabotaged," he said. "So self-care becomes pretty important this time of year." 

When advising others struggling with addiction at Cornerstone, Lee recommends paying special attention to self-care around the holidays. 

"We tend to be creatures of habit and so we have the meetings we go to pretty regularly, but I would tell people double up your meetings. Go try more meetings. Go to meetings you haven't been to," he said. 

During holiday festivities, those who are not getting help can go under the radar.  

"Their excessive use might not appear so blatant as it does during non-holiday times," Lee said. 

And even for people not in recovery, the holidays can facilitate risky behavior. 

"Do you really need to go spend time with family members you don't get along with? This is a good time of year to practice saying 'no,'" he said.