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Holiday season can trigger a relapse for those in recovery

Maintaining a sober lifestyle during the holidays can be increasingly challenging for people who struggle with substance abuse.

TREASURE ISLAND, Fla. — There’s no doubt the holiday season can be stressful and for people who struggle with substance abuse, it can actually be one of the toughest times of the year.

According to the CDC, the most dangerous time of the year for drug and alcohol-related deaths is December.

Two people in recovery talked to 10News about how the holidays can trigger a relapse.

Brittany Ramirez is 27-years-old. She's two years sober after struggling with alcoholism and drug addiction.

John Templeton Jr. is 36-years-old and 17 years sober. He's a recovering alcoholic and now the President and CEO of Footprints Beachside Recovery Center.

What makes recovery more challenging during the holidays?

Brittany: I know for myself in the past being around a large group that kind of push your buttons a little bit, the first thing you think is okay, I need a glass of wine. 

John: It’s really hard to go to a Christmas party without some sort of bar. That’s where alcohol looks the most beautiful is at parties.

How do you protect your sobriety?

Brittany: Definitely letting people know where you’re at (in recovery) so you have that support.

John: It’s a wonderful time but you really have to amp up, it’s like amp up your recovery game...really stay connected and be prepared.

Brittany: Another big thing for me is having people that I can call so if it did get uncomfortable. I can go in the next room, pick up the phone and call somebody and let them know I’m struggling or in an uncomfortable situation and I don’t know what to do.

Why can't you have just one drink at a holiday function?

John: It's a really sneaky disease in the fact that I probably could have one or two at first and then within four or five months, you know, those drinks will have me.

Brittany: My life may not fall apart in that moment but I know it’s just like tiptoeing towards disaster.

How can others support those in recovery during the holidays?

John: Even if they say it’s okay to drink, you know, maybe go the hour or two that your loved one is there and not drink.

Brittany: I just want you to not act differently around me. Just because I’m not drinking, it’s not a big deal.

RELATED: New website aimed at helping addicts find treatment

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Watch John Templeton Jr.'s full interview:

Watch Brittany Ramirez's full interview:

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