23 Dec Helping Family Members Avoid Relapse During the Holidays
Many people let themselves slide into unhealthy habits during the holidays. That’s one reason why we set New Year’s resolutions. For some, the issue isn’t eating too many cookies, though. During the overwhelming holiday season, it’s easy for those with substance abuse disorders to struggle with staying sober. If you have a friend or family member who suffers from addiction, you can help them avoid relapse by following the tips below.
Be Part of a Comprehensive Support Network
You may be someone that your family member or friend turns to for help. It’s helpful to be the support person that your loved one needs. However, you can’t be the only one to take on the task of helping them avoid relapse.
Remind your loved one of all of the other relationships that can keep them in a good place during the holidays. Encourage people with addiction to surround themselves with encouraging, compassionate people. This is especially important when people will be exposed to some personalities that bring them down.
For example, if Uncle Joe doesn’t understand what your husband is going through during recovery, he may not be the most constructive person to be around. But you might not be able to avoid inviting him to Christmas dinner.
If that’s the case, consider inviting more supportive people along with Joe. Your husband may even want to take some extra time for himself while Joe is visiting. Allow him to cater to his needs so that he can stay balanced while the company is visiting.
Encourage Meetings and Addiction Counseling
It can be tough to find the time to attend support groups and meetings during the holidays. However, the battle with addiction doesn’t stop just because the hustle and bustle of life keeps whirling around you. Extra stress during this time can make it feel harder to avoid a relapse.
Make it easy for your family member or friend to attend regular support groups and counseling sessions. You might have to take on some extra responsibilities to allow your loved one to take time for that kind of self-care. It’s important for people who struggle with addiction to remain tapped into their support resources during the holidays so that they don’t relapse.
Hold a Sober Gathering During the Holidays
If you’re worried that attending alcohol-laden social activities will be tempting for someone with addiction, consider holding sober get-togethers. Instead of relying on substances to make things festive, celebrate with food. Invite your guests to bring dishes to share, or set up a bar with all of the ingredients to make mocktails.
You can keep your guests entertained by playing games, decorating ornaments or baking cookies together. You don’t need drugs or alcohol to make a holiday celebration fun.
Be Open and Honest About the Addiction and Possibility of Relapse
Hiding an addiction is never a good idea. If your family member feels the need to keep the addiction secret, they may also try to hide their struggles and triggers. They need to be able to share how they feel with someone whom they love and trust.
Make sure that they know that you’re available to be that person. Don’t judge or take things personally. Instead, listen to your loved one and be willing to hold space for them. Ask them what they need, and honestly consider whether you can support those requirements.
One valuable way that you can support your family member is to help them articulate their triggers. When you both know what’s stimulating them to want to use, you can talk about effective ways to manage cravings and come up with a solution.
You should also talk to other family members about their expectations for the holidays. Let’s say that everyone expects Aunt Jennie, who recently completed a substance abuse program, to be energetic and happy while she’s struggling with cravings and depression. Jennie may feel crushing pressure, which could lead her to relapse.
Final Thoughts About Avoiding Relapse During the Holidays
The best way to help someone with addiction get through the holidays without a relapse is to start early. Talking about expectations, getting support and lining up resources ahead of time can make you feel like you’re in control of the situation. Family members can attend support group meetings to prepare for the holiday season.
When you’re facing a challenging holiday period, you need to devote time to self-care. Make it possible for a family member with addiction to take time to recharge. You should also encourage everyone in the family to adopt and uphold healthy habits.
Eat nourishing meals as much as possible so that you don’t feel depleted. Make time to exercise to stimulate feel-good neurotransmitters. Get enough sleep so that you can handle the chaos that might come your way.
The holidays don’t have to lead to relapse. You’re already a wonderful support person if you’re reading this article and looking for compassionate ways to help a family member avoid relapse during the holidays.