The holiday season is one of the most anticipated times of the year. The chance to give and receive gifts, spending extra time with extended family members, eating food that wouldn’t pass during the “normal times” in life, the holiday season is the time where everyone takes a break from the world. Granted, some family members and foods are better off staying away, but the overall the holidays are a time for fun, family, and freedom.
For those with an addiction problem who might be going through rehab during the holiday season, that freedom is not as easily felt. They might be in pain from withdrawals symptoms, or stressed about the price of rehab – which can range into the high thousands depending on the facility – and might not be able to see or buy gifts for their families. There are several things loved ones can do to help an addict make it through this depression in the season.
Resolving Holiday Addiction Issues
Resolving a holiday addiction problem starts with understanding.
1. Speak with Empathy – It starts with understanding what your loved one might be going through. Educate yourself. Research the effects of addiction and the conditioning they have to undergo at rehabilitation. They might be experiencing frustration, depression, and anger. Their community might label the family as a “problem family” and shun them. Make sure that in your own frustration you aren’t contributing to your loved one’s relapse. Be sure to ask yourself if you’re an enabler. Don’t make excuses for your loved one’s behaviors, but don’t suppress them because of their condition. Don’t be accusatory.
2. Encourage Them – They are going through a turning point in their lives. The journey is an uphill battle and they might feel isolated, especially if they are in an in-patient program and can’t see their loved ones during the holidays. Let them know they aren’t alone, that they have support waiting for their safe, substance-free arrival back home. Give them a reason to keep going, to keep fighting.
3. Listen – Sometimes, people need to vent. Rehabilitation centers can be frustrating to go through, whether in or outpatient. They might want to get the frustration out and need a listening ear. Be that listening ear. Hold them, if they need it. It’s all about support.
4. Allow Them “Normalcy” – It’s the holiday season. There will be certain times and places where speaking about their progress through rehab will be appropriate. The dinner table, or while unwrapping presents is probably not the best time. Allow your recovering family member to be just that, a part of the family. It will take their minds off of the struggles of rehab and give them a positive experience in their lives. They turned to substances because they weren’t feeling enough positivity. Why not give it during the holidays?
5. Be Supportive – This is especially important with outpatients. The world will give some of the same factors that turned your loved one into an addict in the first place. While they try to deal with these problems, be their rock. Maybe offer to attend a few of their support group meetings with them. Offer to be the person they call when they feel like using so they won’t be alone. Work out with them, play video games, whatever they need. Be their support. Be an open line of communication for them.
Communication & Support Can Help Resolve Addiction
While your family member recovers, they will reach hurdles that might seem overwhelming. Communication is a key factor in keeping them on the right path. It is important to treat them like a person, not a leper. Do not let them believe they are alone. Do not isolate them. Welcome them, be warm. You’re family, addiction matters aside. Treat them like family and before you know it they will be back to who they were before the substance issues got a hold of them.