December 26, 2018

How to Navigate Addiction Recovery During Holidays

Written by Alex Thompson

STC’s COO, Brandy Klingman, shares helpful tips on how to navigate addiction recovery holiday gatherings and loved ones who suffer from a substance use disorder during the holiday season.

How does somebody stay healthy mentally, during the holiday season?

Be gentle with yourself. Families should acknowledge that this is a stressful time with everyone coming together. Self-care is crucial. Take some time out of the day to completely to yourself, try to spend time doing something you love. Setting personal boundaries can be beneficial to everyone. Don’t be afraid to create new holiday traditions, they may result in a healthier environment for the family system.

Is it ok to bring home my family member during treatment?

The one big issue that we continuously see is the family putting their needs before recovery needs. We see families feeling pressured to have their loved one home during the holidays instead of following treatment recommendations. Using the holidays to argue whether or not a loved one should be in treatment can be detrimental. You’re dealing with someone who is suffering from chronic illness and trauma. If there is a time where a family decides they want to approach things differently, this would be the time.

How should someone handle a relapse during the holidays?

Before a loved one does end up going home for the holidays, there needs to be a conversation with family members and the treatment team. If a relapse were to happen, it’s important to have a plan in place and immediate professional support and guidance.  A huge part of being in recovery is actually having a relapse prevention plan. The plan should include getting to a meeting, getting in contact with your loved one’s sober sponsor, or treatment provider to discuss appropriate actions moving forward.

Any stress-management tips for family members?

Keeping true to the things that keep you grounded and safe is important. These things may include sticking to your normal daily routine of exercise or quiet time, for example. Creating boundaries and sustaining self-care are very important when facing stress.

Is it okay to drink alcohol around a sober family member? 

Addressing the elephant in the room is not necessarily a bad thing, to begin with. You do so appropriately by showing love and compassion towards your loved one by asking him or her is the drinking going to bother them. Just communicating effectively and asking if they’re comfortable in the environment is important. “Do you mind if I have a drink?” is an example of a simple but yet appropriate way of showing that you’re mindful of their recovery. It’s also important to realize the role alcohol is playing during the holidays. Is alcohol being consumed to connect and bond with other family members or is it a needless holiday tradition? It often times varies from family to family, but one solution is to discover new bonding activities that don’t require alcohol.

Should all medications and alcohol be removed or hidden when a family member who is in recovery visits?

I would definitely recommend playing it safe by locking everything up. If the thought alone makes you feel uncomfortable, it’s better to just go ahead and avoid any risks. Ask yourself, is it worth it to have alcohol or medications present knowing they’re fighting a deadly disease?

Is it ok to ask someone about relapse?

It is okay to address relapse but in an appropriate manner. Speak to their treatment provider or therapist to discuss how to respond productively and how to address relapse. We feel it would actually cause more harm if the discussion is never brought up.

If you or someone you love one suffers from addiction, contact St. Christopher’s Addiction Wellness Center to discuss available treatment options.