Addiction relapse risk rises during holidays

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) The stress of the holidays can be overwhelming for people recovering from substance abuse.

Relapse rates range between 40 to 60 percent for heroin and up to 90 percent for alcohol, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

 Experts said the risk of relapse climbs even higher during the holidays. 

“Once I got introduced to heroin, it physically addicts your body,” Fabert said.

With two-and-a-half years of sobriety behind him, Fabert suffered a major relapse over Thanksgiving. 

“This was tough for me and shameful and embarrassing,” Fabert said. 

The 34-year-old Salt Lake City man first started with alcohol, but quickly slid to cocaine and heroin.

“It’s the time of year when people let down their guards,” said Fabert.

“Finances can be a huge trigger,” said Misty McIntire Goodsell, licensed clinical social worker for Odyssey House. “A lot of people in recovery are experiencing a lot of loneliness this time of year.”

Goodsell said other triggers include strained family relationships, parties with alcohol and traveling stress.

With the help of Utah Naloxone, Odyssey House provided nearly 200 clients and their families with a Naloxone kit to prevent death during a holiday relapse. 

Naloxone is an easy-to-administer, non-addictive antidote for someone who is unresponsive after an opioid overdose. 

But before a relapse turns to an overdose, Fabert encourages others to reach out for help after the first hit or drink.

“It’s what you do from there that really matters,” Fabert said. 

Experts advise people with a loved one in recovery to talk directly about the sobriety and offer support. 

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