Helping an Addict Stay Sober During the Holidays: A Simple Guide for Families
While most people associate the holidays as a cheerful time with plenty of fun to be had, for some, it’s a harsh reminder of darker points in their life. Such is the case for recovered addicts, who often have an intense mix of emotions during this time of year.
On the one hand, they’re happy to be with friends and family members and share in the festivities. But on the other, coming together for the holidays again can be a reminder of all the previous holidays they’ve missed out on due to drug problems. Not to mention, most holiday gatherings come with a plethora of temptations to drink again.
These are just a few reasons why you have to commit to helping your loved one get through this time of the year. Here are 5 tips for helping an addict during the holidays to keep in mind.
1. Be Sober Yourself
This is a support trick you probably learned while your close friend or family member was beginning their recovery journey. It’s a lot easier for a recovered addict to stay sober when they know they’re not the only one who isn’t drinking.
As you’re planning all your holiday outings this year, make it a point to tell your loved one that you’re going to be sober with them. This is a great way of showing support for them and it’s an interesting task to set for yourself, too. You may be surprised to realize what you learn just by making an effort to join a recovered addict in sobriety.
2. Plan Non-Drinking Festivities
Keep in mind that the reason for the holiday season is not to find the bottom of a bottle, anyway. Instead of committing yourself to being sober with a loved one, consider turning your entire holiday event into an alcohol-free celebration.
There are so many other things you can do to enjoy the holidays other than setting out a bunch of alcoholic drinks for people. Thanksgiving is pretty simple since this holiday tends to revolve more around food and mindful gratitude than it does drinking. As it gets closer to Christmas and New Years, though, things get a little more complicated.
Some fun sober ways to celebrate Christmas include having a cookie decorating party or using decorating the tree as an excuse to get a few people together. For New Years, the best way to avoid drinking is to host a gathering in your home full of love, joy, and laughter – and no alcohol.
3. Have Plenty of Non-Alcoholic Drinks
Maybe you just can’t commit to having an alcohol-free holiday event even though you want the recovered addict in your life to be there. There’s pressure on you as a host to deliver certain expectations, and it’s hard to change those when a lot of people are counting on you.
Not to mention, sometimes, changing the entire event to be non-alcoholic can cause a reverse effect and put more attention on a recovered addict than they’d like. As such, the best middle ground is to find a compromise that works for everyone.
Set out a few alcoholic drinks at your upcoming holiday gathering, but make sure there’s plenty of non-alcoholic beverages, too. Don’t just settle for water, either. Get holiday drinks like apple cider and hot chocolate, and maybe even simple things like lemonade and iced tea to make sure the recovered addict in your life feels comfortable.
4. Prepare for All Possible Relapse Temptations
Being around alcohol and others drinking is not the only thing that may have a recovered addict thinking about relapsing.
This is when an addict may see someone from their past that reminds them of their worst self. Or, it might be when they come across someone they haven’t yet made amends with from the consequences of their alcoholic behavior. There are many more situations that could arise and make a recovered alcoholic feel out of place or just plain uncomfortable.
To help them cope with these things, the best thing you can do is keep an eye on the room and watch how they’re interacting with everyone. If an awkward/intense situation does come up, the best thing you can do is pull your loved one aside rather than make a scene.
5. Create Intentional Conversations
Speaking of pulling someone aside, make an effort to have more mindful conversations during this time of the year than normal. Do this both when it’s just you and a recovered addict getting together one on one and when you’re about to enter a holiday party, too.
Something as simple as reminding them that you’re willing to talk things out is huge. It offers a sense of comfort and security as a recovered addict tries to navigate the ups and downs of the holidays.
More so, encouraging intentional conversations increases the likelihood that this person will turn to you rather than to drinking if things get tough. It welcomes them to lean on you as they cope with this time of year.
Helping an Addict All 365 Days of the Year
Helping an addict truly is a year-round job. It asks for a little more out of you during the holidays, but it’s not something you can ignore once January 1st rolls around.
But, things do get better with time. As more years go by and holidays are celebrated, recovered addicts typically find their own ways to cope and get through. This includes leaning on loved ones for help, but they’re also able to better take care of themselves, too.
For more insight on alcohol addiction recovery and how you can support someone, click here.