“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
From the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, to the lights on homes and stores, to the joyful music playing in the grocery stores; favorite Christmas movies and hot chocolate; company parties and a time to let loose. This time of year is traditionally known to be the most festive of seasons.
But for millions of people across the country, the holiday season can be described in a few different words.
The holidays can be one of the most difficult times of the year for people in active addiction and even those in addiction recovery. The holidays can also cause great anxiety for family and friends of those struggling with addiction as they face uncertainty about what to do or how to act around someone in addiction, substance abuse treatment, or recovery.
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Each year, the holidays come and go without regard to the events or struggles in our own lives. However, there are things that we can do to help ourselves and our loved ones this time of year.
Holiday Tips For Individuals In Recovery
Grow Your Support System
There’s never a bad time to reach out to your therapist, your sponsor, a recovery coach or support group. But right now, may be the best time. Spend time with others in recovery and surround yourself with those who have your best interest at heart. It’s ok to say “no” to family or friends who don’t have an understanding of your recovery program.
Create Your Own, Healthy Traditions
Find a new way to celebrate this season. Redefine what a joyful holiday season means to you. Whether it be planning a holiday gathering for friends in recovery, volunteering at a local soup kitchen, or attending a Twelve Step meeting. Avoid isolation – but also avoid temptation. There’s plenty of spirited holiday events and things to do that don’t involve alcohol or drug use – it’s just a matter of finding them and taking part in the occasion.
Let Go Of Resentments
Resentments can run rampant during the holiday season, mostly because we’re in closer contact with family members, old friends, and co-workers in social settings. It’s okay to separate yourself from those you dislike, but hanging onto feelings of resentment can be especially dangerous in recovery.
Have A Plan
Going to a holiday gathering? First of all, know that you don’t have to go. The only thing you have to do is stay healthy. If you’re feeling strong and confident enough in your recovery, make sure to build a solid plan before you step foot in the door.
- Have an “out.” Are drinks going to flow after dinner? Make plans to go to a movie with a sober friend that night.
- Bring a buddy. Bring a friend in recovery who will support you.
- Set a time frame. Clearly state how long you can and will remain at the party.
- Stick to your plan.
Holiday Tips For Family And Friends Of A Person In Early Addiction Recovery
Avoid any awkwardness by having a conversation with your loved one in recovery before the holiday celebrations begin. Let them know that you are on their side and proud of them. Make sure to find out what you can do to make them feel more comfortable at your event or home.
Understand that as a friend or family member, you cannot cure or control your loved one’s addiction. But what you can do, is be supportive of your loved one – especially during the stressful holiday season. You don’t need to base the whole event or gathering around his or her’s health, but you can show your support and treat your loved one, with love.
From office gatherings to family dinners many holiday events tend to based around alcohol. Provide alternative drinks and avoid dishes that incorporate alcohol (even the ones that cook down the alcohol content, but keep the flavor.) It’s no different than providing alternatives to a friend or family who may have a severe allergy to a certain food.
This year may not be the easiest holiday season that you or your friends and family have had – but with the right, proactive steps – it is possible to make it a little more joyous.