While many of us welcome the chance to overindulge a bit around the holidays, for addicts in early recovery, the stretch between Thanksgiving and the New Year can be one of the most difficult seasons to navigate. Large, loud family gatherings can be uncomfortable and dredge up long-standing personal grievances. Seeing old friends who use drugs or alcohol can be trying if we are not emotionally and spiritually fit, especially when so many of the season’s festivities involves celebrating with alcohol.
As you gather with family and friends this holiday season, keep these helpful words of wisdom close to help you or your family member stay connected and feel included.
- Talk to family members in recovery directly about their progress. Discuss in clear terms how you can make them feel comfortable at upcoming gatherings. Don’t walk on eggshells around them. The addiction issue shouldn’t be the elephant in the room.
- If you’re the one in recovery, consider talking honestly about your sobriety with friends and family members. If you do this thoroughly, it is likely that others will be supportive.
- Take care of yourself. This time of year, it’s hard not to “go, go, go!” Be sure to make some quiet time for yourself each day to relax and meditate. Maintain your own spiritual practices and keep up with your regular fitness routine. Don’t let yourself go crazy on holiday foods, but do allow yourself a few pieces of pumpkin pie!
- Center family gatherings around something other than alcohol. Provide plenty of non-alcoholic drink options and focus the celebration on the food, the family, decorating the tree, prayer, or another activity your family enjoys.
- For those in recovery, consider hosting a holiday gathering for your 12-step friends. Many recovery clubs also have festivities during this time of year. Get involved and offer to be of service.
- Recovery typically impacts a person’s finances as much as their health, so try an alternative form of “gifting” this year. Have a secret Santa among family or friends and set a limit on how much you’ll spend, i.e. $10. Encourage everyone to get creative.
- Avoid isolation. Attend extra meetings, reach out to support others in recovery, try new therapy sessions, volunteer and reconnect with non-using friends.
Many in recovery find that this time of year is a chance to connect with a more spiritual side of the season that they hadn’t experienced before sobriety. The holidays begin to take on new meaning when each member of the family thinks of what they can bring to the occasion, rather than what they can take from it. This year, keep your focus on your treatment program and the things and people that matter most to you. At Origins, we’re always here to help. Use our support line at 561-841-1296 for help when you need it.