Active Addiction During the Holidays

The holidays are supposed to be a time of serenity and love where the family comes together. But active addiction during the holidays is business as usual, with manipulation, selfishness and chaos overshadowing the season’s festivities.

The Holidays Are Usually A Time of Celebration


The holidays are supposed to be a time of gratitude, family and coming together. For the active addict though, it’s not uncommon for their lifestyle to change despite whatever holiday is being celebrated. For the family, active addiction during the holidays can be a difficult and painful thing to experience during such special time of year. Addiction doesn’t take a vacation, and the insanity that our loved ones take us through during the holidays is just as tumultuous as the rest of the year when addiction is involved.


Remembering My Insanity During Thanksgiving


I think back to a Thanksgiving prior to getting sober when I was coming home from college. My whole family was looking forward to seeing me and everyone was gathered together to celebrate and share the holiday spirit with one another. Of course, I show up later than I say I will. Keeping commitments and following through with things wasn’t one of my strengths when I was in active addiction, and the holidays are no different. When I finally did arrive, I am disheveled, dirty, and I had too much to drink on the train ride in. What was supposed to be a welcoming greeting had quickly turned into one more disappointment and point of contention for the whole family. Bringing the chaos of active addiction into the serenity of the holidays is unfortunately, to be expected, when there is an addict partaking in the celebrations.


Unexpected Problems Affect Everyone’s Experience


Unexpected problems should be expected with any loved one in active addiction during the holidays. You never know if the addict is going to have had too much to use or drink and act out, causing a scene and ruining a dinner for everyone. Or perhaps it will be the other extreme, with the addict not having access to or being out of his/her fix and bringing a resultant attitude of sulking self-pity into the mix. Either way, the unpredictable volatility of active addiction can quickly put a damper on everyone else’s holiday spirit.


How We Get Manipulated During The Holidays


Manipulation is in full effect during the holiday season as well, with the addict taking a season of giving, and turning it into a season of getting. Too many times I played on my families love during the holidays to get my way – whether it was guilt-tripping mom and dad into some expensive gifts, or convincing the laid back uncle to sneak me some beer, I was on a mission to take as much as possible throughout the holiday season. It is a lot easier to get your family to believe what you want them to believe or do what you want them to do, when what you are trying to convince them of something that they want themselves. The family wants to believe that their son or daughter is clean and sober, that the missing money they are asking for got spent on a parking ticket, or a lost bike, or they need to replace college textbooks. It is much more difficult to face the truth of their addiction, especially during the holidays. An addict is an addict, regardless of how much anyone wants to believe otherwise.


Selfishness During a Time of Giving


Ultimately the defining characteristic of all active addicts, selfishness; permeates the holiday season spent with an active addict. The festivities become either all about the addict getting what they want as they try to direct all of the attention on themselves, or they become about putting out the fires that the addict causes in their disease. Both situations take away the attention from everyone else and make everything about the addict.


Active Addiction Doesn’t Take a Vacation


We want the best for our loved ones, during the holiday season and otherwise. When the ones you love are living in addiction though, you can be along for a bumpy ride. The holiday season, normally a time for celebration and care, can quickly turn into a chaotic trip into insanity. Unfortunately, addiction doesn’t take Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas (or any holiday) off, and it is the ones who care the most that are usually the most affected.


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