This time of year is filled with joy, love, and holiday-spirit. But it can also come with triggers and stress, especially affecting those in recovering from drug and alcohol abuse. Those fresh out of treatment and those with years of sobriety face holiday temptations and social gatherings that can create uncomfortable situations. It doesn’t have to be that way though and there are ways to support your loved one to help them feel strong and committed to their recovery journey through the holidays and into the new year.
Here are 10 ways you can celebrate the holidays with your loved one in recovery.
Let go of unrealistic expectations
Your loved one in recovery is still dealing with stressors that put them at risk for relapse.. Often times family and friends believe after treatment their loved one is cured, but they are still very much in recovery. Be sensitive and compassionate to this and understand when they aren’t ready for life the same way you are.
Commit to open communication
Have a heart to heart with your loved one. Tell them you are proud of them, grateful to have them with you for the holidays, and talk to them about what kind of support they’ll need during the festivities… be sure to listen to what they ask for.
For those in early recovery, a party setting can have too much temptation. Ask them if they are comfortable taking part in the celebration this year. If they are, then discuss their level of comfort and with what aspects they are comfortable with. Nixing alcohol from your gathering may not be the right choice for your situation, but again, having that open communication will be key.
Let your loved one know they are welcome to leave the celebration at any time to take a walk, get some air, call another person in recovery, or leave the event entirely if something feels uncomfortable.
Involve them in the party planning
If you’re inviting them to a holiday celebration, involve your loved one in the plans. Ask them what kinds of drinks, food, or activities they would like to see at the party. If there is going to be alcohol, make sure they know it so they can plan to steer clear of it or attend a meeting after the party.
Use the sober buddy system
Ask your loved one if they’d like to invite someone that is also in recovery. Having a sober buddy to lean on could make all the difference during the party. If you know other guests that do not drink go out of your way to introduce them.
Give them space
Hovering, watching, and being overbearing over your loved one in recovery can add unnecessary stress to the situation. It can frustrate your loved one and put them at greater risk for relapse. Although relapse is a real issue, you have to remind yourself to give them enough space and trust to own their sobriety journey.
Start new traditions
If you used to spend Christmas Eve drinking festive cocktails, try having a hot chocolate bar instead, or taking a tour de Christmas lights this year. The holidays are about spending time with those you love, feeling joy, and appreciating all that you have. You don’t need drugs or alcohol for any of that.
Plan fun activities
With your loved one out of treatment and home for the holidays you’ll want to find fun activities you can do together. Consider things like a Christmas Day movie after the morning brunch and gifts. Or a New Year’s Day hike to start the year off on a healthy note.
Celebrate their recovery
Sobriety is a huge accomplishment and recovery is worth celebrating any time of year. Let your loved one know by celebrating them and the important steps they are taking to make a better life for themselves.
Supporting a loved one in sobriety doesn’t mean missing out on holiday celebrations. This year you can make new holiday traditions, find better ways to celebrate and enjoy having your loved one back in your life. With these tips in mind we wish your family joyous holiday celebrations.
If you, or some you love is struggling with addiction call us today to find out about our addiction treatment options. We want to help.