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BENNINGTON — The holidays can be a sad and lonely time for those in recovery, and that can put people at risk of relapse.

Margae Diamond, the executive director of Turning Point Center of Bennington, has seen a “high percentage of relapse” from the center’s hospital emergency department program in the past few weeks. Many individuals are also reaching out for help.

“So basically, in the last two weeks, we haven’t seen anyone new, we’ve seen a lot of people,” Diamond said.

Turning Point hasn’t seen any new clients — they are all returning clients who have relapsed. She said after they’re in the hospital for the relapse, the clients are checking themselves out against medical advice and disappearing.

A lot of shame cloaks addiction, but Diamond is working to change the narrative. People in recovery shouldn’t see relapse as a failure, but as an obstacle in their recovery journey.

“It’s an opportunity to readjust your plan and recommit, but it is not a failure,” she said.

When relapse is treated like a failure, clients are more likely to give up, but they don’t have to. A relapse can be an opportunity to learn, and a recovery plan can be adjusted to incorporate new information gathered from the relapse.

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Diamond said a high percentage of people will relapse at least once in their recovery journey — it’s “very common.”

Changing a long-term habit that has been ingrained in someone’s lifestyle is a long and difficult process. Using can be a coping mechanism, and it takes a lot of work, time and commitment to work on recovery, she said.

The holidays are all about connection, but many people who are struggling with addiction have lost their connections, or their connections are strained. “That leaves people even more isolated during a time where everyone else is pulling together,” said Diamond.

Turning Point encourages people to pick up the phone and call for help. There are Alcoholic Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and organizations like Turning Point whose main goal is to support people in recovery, and they’re available at all hours of the day. There are even virtual meetings for those with transportation obstacles, she said.

“There are many places for people to plug in,” said Diamond. “But hearing other people’s stories and gaining a sense of community, that you’re not alone is really important.”

Starting Jan. 3, Turning Point will be extending its hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It also will be introducing a wellness calendar with a schedule of activities that will be free to Turning Point clients.

There is also Vermont Helplink, which a free resource for Vermonters that provides confidential, nonjudgmental support to people in recovery. More information can be found at VTHelplink.org, or by calling 802-565-LINK or toll-free at 833-565-LINK. The Helplink can also assist loved ones who want to help a family member in recovery.


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