The Holiday season is usually perceived as being a joyful time of year. This may be the case for most people. For addicts, the holidays can be an overwhelming and stressful time of year. There are many effective days to help the recovering addict during the holidays.
Supporting the Recovering Addict During the Holiday Season
Families often experience a variety of emotions surrounding a recovering addict during the holidays. Some family members may be overjoyed to have their loved one in recovery attend family gatherings. Others may not be as delighted to be in the presence of that recovering person, due to conflicts in the past.
The most common issue for families of the recovering person is fear of relapse. While this is a normal fear, it is important that the family refrain from hovering over the recovering person. This can cause unnecessary stress and tension for everyone involved. It is suggested that a designated family member speaks to the recovering person and asks how they can make the holiday season more comfortable for them and their recovery. It is important to address the issues that recovering person is concerned with; any possible triggers and discuss the possible presence of alcohol. Many people aren’t sure if alcohol should or shouldn’t be present at these events. It all depends upon that particular family and the recovering person. Some recovering addicts may be overwhelmed at the sight of alcohol; others may feel their addiction is highlighted further with the absence of alcohol.
It is important for the family to manage their expectations. Having the expectation that a recovering addict will be somehow cured of any personal conflict should not be held. Other helpful ways to ensure a safe holiday experience are avoiding cooking with alcohol, refraining from serving alcohol-infused desserts, and having a variety of non-alcoholic beverages accessible to the recovering person. Open and honest communication provides the best opportunity for a safe and fun holiday season.
How to Help Prevent Relapse During the Holiday Season
The best way to prevent relapse is by being prepared:
Information: during the holiday season it is suggested that the recovering person has prepared the necessary information in case they feel triggered or need help. They should have their sponsor’s phone number, the phone numbers of others in recovery, AA and NA meetings nearby, and recovery-related literature.
Schedule: it is often suggested that individuals in recovery arrive at social gatherings early and leave early. This not only provides a planned schedule but allows them to avoid times where drug and alcohol use is at its highest and most obvious.
Beverages: it is suggested that the recovering person bring their own drinks. This will allow the individual to have control over what they are served and what they drink.
Support: some individuals in recovery may feel more at ease at a social gathering if they have someone in recovery with them. This type of buddy system allows them to have someone they can rely upon and talk to if they feel triggered or need to leave a particular situation.
What if the Recovering Addict Relapses During the Holidays?
No matter how prepared a family may be for a recovering addict during the holidays, sometimes it just doesn’t matter. While there are effective relapse-prevention steps that can be taken, if an addict is determined to use, there is often nothing that can be done. What happens if the recovering person relapses? If a relapse occurs it is imperative that it is addressed. There are several steps you should take if this occurs:
Address the issue: the relapse must be addressed. Confronting the individual without the use of shame or guilt is the most effective way to address the relapse.
AA or NA Meeting: offering to take the addict to an AA or NA meeting so they can receive support from others in recovery. Often during the holiday season, there are more AA and NA meetings available due to the stressors surrounding the season.
Contacting their sponsor: it may be a good idea to contact their sponsor or encourage the struggling addict to contact their sponsor and inform them of what occurred.
Treatment facility: offering to bring the individual back to a treatment facility they had previously been in or finding a new facility.
Concerned About Yourself or a Loved One?
The holidays can be both a joyful and difficult time of year. It is important to understand how overwhelming the season can be to those in recovery from addiction. If you or someone you know needs help from addiction or you would like more information about relapse-prevention, do not hesitate to contact us at (888)357-7577