I wrote this article for Behavioral Health Matters Blog (and it was posted 12-12-2012). I think it is worthy of a re-post (smile):
The holidays (the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s) are amongst us. For many, this is “traditionally” a time of family gatherings, sharing, and self-reflection; however, for people who are in recovery (from being addicted to alcohol and other drugs), the holidays can be a trigger for relapse.
“For so many, the holidays are not a joyous time of the year, but a season filled with loneliness, anxiety, self-doubt and unachievable expectations that can result in serious consequences if not managed early,” says Joseph Lee, M.D., a child and adolescent psychiatrist and addiction specialist with Hazelden*. “The holidays can stir up old issues and emotions when spending time with family and friends.”
Hazelden*, a national nonprofit organization founded in 1949 devoted to helping people reclaim their lives from the disease of addiction, advises that the holiday season is “an opportune time to support those in recovery and loved ones struggling with addiction issues”.
HAZELDEN’s HOLIDAY TIPS
FOR FRIENDS & FAMILY OF A PERSON IN RECOVERY:
- Have a Heart-to-Heart. To avoid any awkwardness, have a direct conversation with the person in recovery before the holiday celebration. Tell them you are proud of them and ask if there is anything you can do to make them feel more comfortable at the party.
- Prepare as a Family. Understand that families cannot cure addiction and they cannot control it. Nor can families cause a relapse during the holidays – it’s up to the recovering person to be responsible for their own recovery. But families can be supportive of loved ones in recovery – especially during the holidays.
- Show your Support. . . . Say to the person, “We’re really glad you’re here and that you’re sober.” It is okay to talk about the change in family dynamics. Acknowledge his or her recovery in a low-key way.
- Offer Alternatives. There should be holiday activities that aren’t completely focused on alcohol. Provide alternative drinks and watch out for certain foods. Even though dishes made with wine, beer or hard liquor have no traceable alcohol content, just the flavor of the alcohol could trigger a relapse for someone in recovery.
A relapse is a process and easily masked. It is easy to confuse a person’s relapse as engaging in holiday cheer; therefore, loved-ones must be careful to not feel responsible should a relapse happen during the holidays. As a loved-one, it is important to understand the disease, learn to not enable, and have one’s own support.
Another resource is the blog Addiction Prevention Coalition whose vision is to prevent substance abuse in Central Alabama by engaging individuals in purposeful living with helpful articles as:
Tips to Keep Teens Safe During the Holidays
And I would be remiss if I did not include a link for the person in recovery—⇒
Tips for preventing the holiday blues, staying sober
After all, we’re ALL IN THIS TOGETHER … yet, we all have different needs. So in the spirit of Counseling-On-A-Shoestring, -let’s together, we all need support this holiday season (and each day)
*Hazelden is now The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation–which is a force of healing and hope for individuals, families and communities affected by addiction to alcohol and other drugs. It is the nation’s largest nonprofit treatment provider, with a legacy that began in 1949 and includes the 1982 founding of the Betty Ford Center. With 16 sites in California, Minnesota, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Florida, Massachusetts, Colorado and Texas, the Foundation offers prevention and recovery solutions nationwide and across the entire continuum of care for youth and adults. Please Visit:
For sure, we’re ALL IN THIS TOGETHER … yet, some have different needs.
So, in the spirit of Counseling-On-A-Shoestring,
let’s tie together! . . . souls need support!
this holiday season (and each day).
Thanks for stopping by, thanks for letting me share—Happy Holidays!
This is very helpful for family and friends who love people in recovery.
Thanks for your reply, Angela–it is good to know that the information is being used as intended. Happy Holidays!