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The holiday season can be a stressful time of year for anyone. For families with loved ones in recovery, this stress can seem inevitably magnified. If your loved one is in recovery during the holiday season, it’s important to lend your support with honesty and compassion. With the right game plan in place, you can find peace of mind and enjoy time spent with your loved one during the holidays. 

The Value of Support During the Holiday Season in Recovery

The holiday season can be a difficult time for your loved one in recovery. As they navigate a new world without substances, they may have fears of relapse or lack of self-control. 

According to StatPearls, there is an increased risk of physical relapse during special times like the holidays. This time of year is more important than ever to be there for your loved one to ensure they don’t fall back into old patterns or succumb to stressful situations.

With a strong and compassionate support system, you can help your loved one navigate the holiday season and help them feel confident in their recovery.

Foster Honesty and Compassion

For many, the holiday season is a time for families to come together. For a loved one in recovery, this might be the first time they will be around the family since they began treatment. To lend strong support, you should approach your loved one’s recovery journey with compassion. Let them know you’re proud of them and celebrate their progress.

In addition to fostering compassion, honesty remains a vital component of a successful recovery. It’s important for both you and your loved one to be honest with one another during this time. It may be a good idea to get together with your loved one before holiday plans or events and talk honestly about boundaries and expectations.

There may even be wounds left from past arguments or conflicts. To move forward, you might want to face any residual tension head-on and try to forgive one another. Starting with a clean slate will allow you to provide the strong support your loved one needs during this time.

Avoid Enabling Behavior

Sometimes it can feel like there’s a fine line between supporting a loved one and enabling them. You may want to shower your loved one with affection by giving them money or even turning a blind eye to addictive behaviors. Even more, during the holiday season, you may feel pressure to keep the “status quo” and avoid any conflict. 

It’s important to be mindful that excessive help can lead to enabling your loved one’s addiction. It may feel uncomfortable in the moment, but just remember that a little detachment and tough love can go a long way.

Acknowledge the Increased Risk of Relapse

It’s important to understand that the holiday season can bring about a greater chance of relapse. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) urges care providers to recognize holiday triggers of trauma. SAMHSA states that holiday triggers can include songs, scents, and rituals, as well as pressure to “conform to particular social and familial expectations.” Families of loved ones struggling with addiction should also become familiar with these triggers.

The increased presence of alcohol during the holidays can also be a trigger that leads to relapse. If your loved one does relapse during the season, you should approach them with compassion without enabling their behavior.

Celebrating the Holiday Season Sober

The holiday season is a time for celebration and festivities. If your loved one is in recovery, fun activities can help them integrate back into daily life without the need for substances. Besides the usual family gatherings, there are many other ways to celebrate the season together. 

Fun holiday activities can include:

  • Baking holiday cookies or treats
  • Taking a crafting class together where you can make ornaments and other holiday decor
  • Engaging in outdoor activities, like skiing or ice skating
  • Enjoying holiday light shows
  • Seeing a holiday show or planning a holiday movie night

Don’t be afraid to try something new! There are always a ton of events planned around the holiday season, so you’ll be sure to find something you and your loved one can both enjoy.

Addiction Treatment During the Holiday Season

The holiday season can be an extremely difficult time for those struggling with addiction. This time of year may surface sad memories and other triggering events. Many people use substances during the holidays to cope with the stress of the season, and alcohol use, in particular, is widely celebrated.

If your loved one is in treatment during the holidays, you can get involved in their care while keeping healthy boundaries in place. Many programs will provide family therapy sessions to help both you and your loved one navigate the holiday season.

If your loved one has already been through treatment and is now attending programs in recovery, there will also be options for you to become involved in the process. You may choose to attend a meeting with your loved one or find additional ways to support them through their sobriety.

Family Therapy

A quality outpatient treatment program will provide your loved one with a comprehensive care plan that includes family therapy. In these sessions, you can discuss your loved one’s progress, understand their triggers, and learn how to support them in the best way possible.

Addiction is a disease that affects the whole family. Together with care providers, you and your loved one can form a plan to feel confident through the holiday season and find true enjoyment.

The holiday season doesn’t pause your loved one’s recovery journey. With the right support and plan of action, you can make the most out of the season and create solid memories for years to come.

The holiday season can be stressful for both families and loved ones in recovery. Triggering situations, an overabundance of substances like alcohol, and painful memories can greatly increase the chance of relapse during this time. It’s important to have a plan in place to help your loved one navigate this season and enjoy it together. At Lighthouse Recovery Texas, we help families create a strong system of support during the holiday season. Our outpatient programs all include family therapy, where you can discuss your loved one’s progress, understand their triggers, and heal from the past. At Lighthouse, we employ a “family first” philosophy and aim to help the whole family through recovery as a unit. Call us at (214) 396-0259.