Friends and Families: Read How to Best Support Drug or Alcohol Addicts around the Holidays
The air is cooling, the leaves are turning colors, and football is always on; fall is here! But around the corner looms the holidays, which can bring a sense of anxiety or dread for drug or alcohol addicts. Holidays are often full of non-stop social engagements, often brimming with drinks. How an addict, especially a recent graduate of an alcohol or drug rehab program, chooses to spend the holidays likely depends on their system of support: their friends and family. At Lighthouse Recovery in Dallas, we offer family therapy because of your importance in the long-term sobriety of an addict.
Here are three ways friends and family can best support an addict who’s fresh out of IOP recovery, sober living, or going through drug rehab
Communicate your support ahead of time
Your loved one who struggles from the disease of addiction might already have some stressors about the holidays. Who all will be around? What do they know? Will they ask invasive questions? Do they expect an apology for past behavior? Will they expect or pressure me to drink?
Talk to the addict well before the holidays, letting them know you are in their corner. Ask them how you can help broach the subject of their recent sobriety – together, or would it be beneficial for you to give everyone a head’s up? Let your person know when/if there will be drinking, and honestly let them know if it’s too much, you understand them missing the occasion. They might be feeling a great deal of stress about using this sober holiday to make up for spoiled, addicted holidays of seasons past, but communicate to them that is not the expectation. There will be plenty of sober holidays in the future!
Speak up and stand up for your loved one
When the family or friend gatherings happen, BE THERE for your friend. Being at a social event while in an IOP recovery program might trigger some negative feelings or unwanted desires to abuse drugs or alcohol. Help them navigate the new normal of sober social events. If unhealthy friends or family start prying or asking invasive questions, stand up for your friend or help them exit the conversation. Remind them how proud you are of them, and how you’re there for them.
Plan non-alcohol centered experiences
With the holidays, it can be especially difficult when every occasion involves some sort of social drinking component. Even if it’s a new tradition, plan a non-alcohol experience. Driving or walking around looking at Christmas lights with hot chocolate, going on a New Year’s morning hike, having a family or friend’s Great British Bake Off Challenge are just a few ideas! If your friend or loved one is fresh out of alcohol or drug rehab, they’ll appreciate the normal experiences without the heavy presence of triggers. Plus, the fact that they’re NEW traditions helps to eliminate any flashbacks of previous substance abuse problems during the tradition.
At Lighthouse Recovery, we are here for every individual struggling with the complex disease that is addiction. Part of our job is to help families openly and honestly communicate with each other to best support the addict in our Sober Living Houses here in Dallas or going through IOP Recovery. We hope these tips encourage you to lovingly look to your loved one as someone grappling with or recovering from an illness, and to actively find ways to support and encourage their sobriety, especially around the holidays.