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5 Ways to Avoid an Anniversary Reaction Relapse

Before you lost your father, May 19th had no significance. Before the car accident, August 8th was just another summer day.

There’s no Hallmark card for this type of anniversary – it’s anything but happy. It’s the day on your calendar that takes you back to a time of suffering. It’s a day that – to you – signifies nothing but pain, hurt, fear or death.

The anniversaries of traumatic events can be traumatic themselves. It’s so common, in fact, it has a name: “anniversary reaction.” The response is unique to each individual, but common symptoms are described as “an increase in distress around the anniversary of a traumatic event.” Some people feel sad; others get anxious. For some, it is a mild feeling of sorrow. For others, it may involve significant physical and mental reactions such as panic attacks or stomach aches.

Relapse Potential

For others who have struggled with substance abuse, these days hold the potential for relapse. Faced with heart-wrenching memories, it can be difficult not to resort to old coping habits. If you have any stressful dates saved in your mental calendar, it’s important to develop healthy ways to handle them. Don’t let that anniversary also become the date you gave up your sobriety.

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