Holiday Triggers for Those in Recovery

While most people enjoy the holidays, we all know how stressful they can be. The demands of our jobs, our families and more can bring physical, mental and emotional anxiety to us all.

That’s also true for those in Recovery from an addiction. The holidays can be overwhelming to people who are in short- or long-term Recovery. An individual’s stress level is often heightened by trying to maintain their Recovery, calling their sponsor, attending meetings, and guarding themselves against holiday triggers.

What Are Holiday Triggers?

These triggers can come in all forms — including sights, sounds, smells, traditions, family members, etc. We all have triggers, but for those in Recovery, sometimes holiday triggers bring them back to a memory of which they aren’t particularly proud.

It’s important for both those in Recovery and their families to be aware of how to handle these holiday triggers. Some are avoidable altogether, by simply saying “no” to events, dinners, parties or other activities that you know may be compromising.

Coping Techniques

However, some triggers are unavoidable. In these instances, we refer to a technique called “bookending.” Bookending is talking to your sponsor before and after any event you attend — discussing the feelings, emotions and triggers that might come along with it.

Another important way to manage holiday triggers is to build Recovery Capital and to keep the lines of communication open. Recovery Capital includes family and friends as a support system, as well as the support of meetings, sponsors and other activities that are around you. Those who are taking the time to involve themselves in how you’re feeling and what you’re going through are very important to your Recovery. Express your concerns to your support group when you feel uncomfortable and, in return, let them ask questions.

Family Awareness Is Important, Too

Family and friends of those who are in Recovery also go through an adjustment period as they try to cope and support, so they also need to be able to identify possible holiday triggers. Sometimes as a family member or friend, you must make adjustments to your own holiday routine to create a more comfortable atmosphere for the individual in Recovery. That bottle of wine on the dining room table or the six-pack of beer that accompanies the football game can easily be replaced with non-alcoholic alternatives like juice, soda or water.

Instead of focusing on what you have to give up, focus on all that you will gain in return from your loved one in the form of spending quality time with him or her — laughs, memories, etc. Take the time also to create new traditions with your loved one and embrace a new start for both of you.

Along with the holidays, there may be additional factors families and loved ones should be aware of regarding those in Recovery. This includes emotional mood swings and the need to connect often with their outside support group (meetings, sponsors and other activities).

Neither of these reactions reflect negatively on the family and friends and the recovering addict’s desire to spend time with them; it’s quite the opposite. The holidays are an emotional time for everyone, and for those in Recovery they can bring a lot of memories to the surface. By seeking help, your loved one is being responsible by finding the specific support he or she needs to succeed — a positive development that should be encouraged.

So whether you’re going through Recovery yourself or have a loved one who is, know that the holiday season can be stressful. But the holidays can also be enjoyable if we strive to be mindful and prepared. We can easily become caught up in great reflection during the holidays and the New Year. Regardless of our circumstances, this year, let’s also take the time to enjoy present experiences and be thankful for each moment spent together.

Meridian HealthCare’s “Breakfast with Santa” — a 25-Year Holiday Tradition for Kids and Families in our Valley

YOUNGSTOWN — Hundreds of children, newborn–10, who otherwise might not have an opportunity to be part of a positive holiday event, enjoyed some holiday cheer Saturday thanks to Meridian HealthCare’s annual Breakfast with Santa event.

Student volunteers from several area schools who are members of the Meridian-sponsored PANDA Leaders Club collected toys to distribute to the youngsters via the PANDA Leaders Club Giving Tree event. They also helped serve a free breakfast, led holiday craft events, and coordinated photos with Santa at the Breakfast with Santa event, which took place from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Saturday, December 9th at the Downtown YMCA.

The children who were invited to Breakfast with Santa are clients of the many area non-profit social service agencies who work with Meridian. PANDA Leaders Club members are students at area middle schools and high schools — part of a program that encourages young people to make positive choices in their lives while developing plans to deal with issues facing young people today.

Students from various local Mahoning and Trumbull County schools including Lowellville, Niles Middle School, Poland Middle School, Struthers, Boardman Glenwood Middle School, and Boardman Center Intermediate School participated in this year’s PANDA Leaders Club Giving Tree event — collecting over 200 presents at their schools. Meridian employees also donated gifts. Any presents that remain after this year’s event will be distributed to children in various Meridian HealthCare programs and other donation programs throughout the Mahoning Valley.

This year The Hidden Cafe donated a hot breakfast for all attendees including French toast casserole, potatoes, eggs, and sausage. Other local businesses who have also contributed include: Giant Eagle – Boardman, Austintown, Canfield and Poland locations, Struthers IGA, Arby’s in Austintown, and Taco Bell – Boardman.

Meridian HealthCare has been sponsoring the Breakfast with Santa event for over 25 years.

Meridian Winter Sprinter

Saturday, February 24, 2018
4 Mile Run | 2 Mile Walk
Pancake Breakfast

Sponsored by Home Savings Charitable Foundation

Thank you to everyone who helped make Meridian’s Winter Sprinter 2018 a success!

Below are a list of race times and pictures!

2018 Winter Sprinter 4-mile results 

For more pictures, please visit our FaceBook Page:

Proceeds benefit Prevention and Recovery in the Mahoning Valley

Meridian’s role in battling the opioid crisis recognized in Vindicator editorial

An editorial appearing in the August 25, 2017 edition of the Youngstown Vindicator praised a program developed in partnership with Sheriff Jerry Greene and Meridian HealthCare to address opioid addiction in the Mahoning Valley.

The full text of the editorial follows:


Growing opiate epidemic in need of quick response

Such progress, however, has been far less visible when it comes to monitoring OD victims and leading them swiftly into critical follow-up treatment and counseling. Many simply relapse again and again, thereby making no tangible progress in reversing the upward trend lines of the opiate menace.

And those lines show no signs of falling anytime soon. Last year, the Mahoning Valley’s death toll from drug and opiate abuse soared to a record high of 227, according to data from county coroners compiled by The Columbus Dispatch. By all accounts, the pace of opiate overdoses and deaths continues to escalate this year.



Fortunately for Mahoning County residents, a program planned by Sheriff Jerry Greene in partnership with Meridian HealthCare, a Youngstown-based drug-addiction treatment center, holds promise to significantly accelerate bringing potentially life-altering treatment to those who have survived an overdose of heroin, fentanyl or other opiate.

Mahoning County commissioners voted last week to apply for a two-year $150,000 grant from the state Attorney General’s office to help defray costs of implementing a county Quick Response Team comprised of deputy sheriffs, emergency medical services representatives and Meridian counselors. The team would be required to contact OD victims within 24 to 72 hours of their brush with death and lead them to counseling and treatment.

The grant proposal merits funding as it clearly meets the primary criterion for approval: creating partnerships between law enforcement and treatment providers. A decision on the grant is expected by next Thursday. Aug. 31

We’re confident that Mahoning County would register the same productive results as found in other parts of the state where QRTs already are in place. Greene and his partners have modeled the Mahoning QRT after one in Hamilton County where the impact has been stunning.

In Colerain Township, a community in Hamilton County only slightly smaller than Youngstown, a QRT formed there in July 2015 has resulted in 80 percent of overdosed individuals engaging in treatment and a 30 percent reduction in emergency calls for overdoses, according to date presented at the Eighth Annual Ohio Opiate Conference in Columbus earlier this summer.

To achieve maximum success, however, the Mahoning County QRT will need broad-based and complementary support from state and federal sources.

In the state, the Ohio Mayors Alliance, an organization of city mayors across the state including those from Youngstown and Warren, this week urged Gov. John Kasich to establish an emergency operations center to coordinate the state’s response to the opioid crisis and to serve as a central clearinghouse for information on best practices for all communities to access.

In Washington, there also is no more time to waste before President Donald Trump officially declares the opiate epidemic a national emergency, as he vowed to do 15 days ago. We hope the paperwork toward that end is not mired knee-deep in the federal bureaucratic muck. Its benefits could well trickle down to Ohio and the Mahoning Valley.

An emergency lets states and localities access money in the federal Disaster Relief Fund and it erases regulations that have forbidden Medicaid patients from entering large treatment centers.

The need for treatment of opiate addiction will only grow larger once the quick response team takes charge in Mahoning County.

Recovery Road #9 – Will I ever fully recover?

According to Julie Lenyk, Ph.D, Director of Recovery Support Services; and Meghan Fawcett, Vice President of Clinical Treatment for Meridian HealthCare; those in recovery often ask if they can ever hope to live normal lives again. The answer is “Yes.”

See the complete Recovery Road video series on this page.

Meridian HealthCare Presents at National Conference on Addiction Disorders

Meridian HealthCare’s President and CEO, Larry Moliterno, and Director of Marketing and Development, Renee Amacher, will be presenting at the 2017 National Conference on Addiction Disorders – Navigate Passages to Recovery. Their presentation, Building Leaders From Within,  will focus on professional development. The conference is scheduled for August 16-20th in Baltimore, MD. For more information, please visit: www.NCADCON.COM

Recovery Road #8 – The role of 12-step programs

Not all recovery programs incorporate the 12-step method, but many make good use of these programs’ precepts, according to Julie Lenyk, Ph.D, Director of Recovery Support Services; and Meghan Fawcett, Vice President of Clinical Treatment for Meridian HealthCare.

See the complete Recovery Road video series on this page.

Recovery Road #7 – What Makes Treatment Work?

Julie Lenyk and Meghan Fawcett discuss the reasons behind successful treatment for addiction.

See the complete Recovery Road video series on this page.

Meridian HealthCare Partners with Two Agencies in Support of a New Facility for the Homeless

Meridian HealthCare, COMPASS Family & Community Services, and Help Network of Northeast Ohio conducted a ribbon-cutting and open house on July 31, 2017 for invited guests and elected officials to showcase a $7 million+ permanent supportive housing project for homeless individuals located on Madison Avenue in Youngstown.

The Commons at Madison, a two-story apartment complex with 40 one-bedroom permanent supportive units, is now open to residents. This partnership of three premier mental health, substance abuse, housing, and social service providers allows for a unique opportunity for low-income individuals coping with mental illness, addiction disorder or co-occurring disorders to receive permanent supportive housing.

“It’s a great day for the City of Youngstown and Mahoning County as we open this incredible apartment complex that will provide affordable housing and support for those members of our community that have a mental illness and/or addiction,” said Joe Caruso, President and Chief Executive Officer of COMPASS Family & Community Services. “Meridian HealthCare, COMPASS Family & Community Services and Help Network of Northeast Ohio are proud to provide this opportunity for individuals to have permanent supportive housing and live with dignity and respect.”

Larry Moliterno, president and CEO of Meridian HealthCare, thanked the project collaborators and said he was proud that “there will be 40 people with a safe place to live.”

“The need for permanent supportive housing in Mahoning County is immense,” added Duane Piccirilli, Executive Director of the Mahoning County Mental Health & Recovery Board. “This facility will offer independent living in a supportive environment with access to services just a few short steps from residents’ front door. The Commons at Madison is an example of the Mental Health and Recovery Board’s Strategic Action Plan to provide affordable, quality housing for our consumers.”


This project would not have been possible without the strong support of a host of organizations, agencies and foundations, including:

  • Huntington Bank
  • Home Savings
  • Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati
  • Ohio Department of Mental Health
  • Community Foundation of Mahoning Valley
    • Kennedy Family Fund
    • John S. and Doris M. Andrews Memorial Fund
  • Youngstown Foundation
  • J. Ford Crandall Memorial Foundation
  • Pearl and Frank Gelbman Charitable Foundation
  • John D. Finnegan Foundation
  • Ohio Housing Finance Agency
  • Ohio Development Services Agency
  • Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing
  • Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority
  • The Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board

More information about the Commons at Madison is available by calling 330-318-3871.

Recovery Road #6 – Adapting treatment to individual needs

Meridian’s Julie Lenyk and Meghan Fawcett say treatment for addiction can be customized to meet the individual needs of the patient.

See the complete Recovery Road video series on this page.