Navigating the Holidays with an Addicted Loved One

Navigating the Holidays with an Addicted Loved One

Holidays can be stressful, but even more so when a loved one is an addict

Many families who have been affected by a loved one’s addiction criticize drug users’ behavior both before and after the addiction began. Unfortunately, for this reason alone, many addicts find it difficult to attend family events without feeling judged, criticized and/or overlooked. Even if someone is now sober, she may feel uncomfortable around those who once judged her for her addiction, so she may feel unwilling to attend any family event.

However, both the addict and his loved ones should be prepared for the holidays ahead. Although the holidays can be stressful, when everyone knows what to expect and what is expected of them, then they are able to relax, let their guard down and enjoy their loved ones’ company. If a family cannot agree how to support recovery or accept each other, then it may be best for the addict to wait for another family event to attend.

How Can an Addict’s Family Prepare for the Holidays?

Although holidays are a time when families often unite and enjoy each other’s company, families who have been impacted by addiction may find themselves overwhelmed and stressed as they try to balance the addict with the rest of the family. Because of the constant stress from their loved one’s addiction, simply thinking about maintaining the peace among family members can be overwhelming. This stress can increase greatly if someone mishandles these issues, and any extra stress could lead to further estrangement from the addict or cause him to relapse.

However, even though these problems are common in recovery, the family of an addicted loved one can prepare themselves for the holidays with the following steps:[1]

  • Manage expectations
  • Set boundaries
  • Learn to let go

It is common for today’s society to set unrealistic expectations for both themselves and others, and this problem can become an even bigger issue around the holidays. For instance, some people may expect every family member to attend every celebration without issue, meaning they think that everyone will get along throughout the party. Unfortunately, these thoughts are unrealistic, which can cause additional stress on everyone who attends the party. While everyone may have pure intentions with these thoughts, not preparing for the unexpected (or even considering that some issue could surprise you) can place every attendee on edge, especially the addict himself. In short, prepare in advance for problems, even if it means accepting that a problem could occur.

Professionals discourage families from banning addicts from family celebrations, unless the addict could harm either herself and/or others, especially children. So, if your addicted loved one is going to attend your family’s holiday celebration, then make sure she understands what behaviors are tolerated, as well as the ones that are not. Then, inform other loved ones about the boundaries for the addict. Once everyone knows what is expected, then relax and enjoy the company of your loved ones. Understand that certain problems will most likely happen, but these issues are no reflection upon anyone other than the individual who engages them.

How Can a Recovering Addict Stay Sober During the Holidays?

Many people forget about the anxiety that recovering addicts may have during the holiday season, so they forget how much effort they must put into maintaining sobriety. However, recovering addicts can use many strategies to stay sober during the holiday season, such as the following suggestions:

  • Prepare ahead of time
  • Arrive early, leave early
  • Bring beverages
  • Have an escape plan

Those who have never struggled with addiction often overlook how one simple decision can have a tremendous impact on life, but recovering addicts have to look at how every decision they make can either benefit or jeopardize sobriety. Sometimes, these choices can be difficult, such as whether or not they should attend a family event during the holidays. Ergo, to support recovery, an addict’s loved ones should also be prepared to make changes for the recovering addict, such as limiting alcohol use during the party and setting up games so that everyone’s focus is not on the recovering addict. Taking such simple steps to support the recovery can make that person feel more comfortable at an event. Such preparation will also help the recovering addict relax enough to enjoy himself. In other words, you can help a loved one stay clean during the holidays if you prepare for sobriety during the event.

Oxycodone Addiction Treatment

If you or a loved one is struggling with an oxycodone addiction and is unsure how to prepare for the holiday season, then please call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline now. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions and to help you find the best treatment available. It only takes one call to change a life, so pick up the phone now to begin recovery as soon as possible!

[1] http://www.socialworktoday.com/archive/111511p10.shtml, Families and Addiction-Surviving the Season of Stress, Christina Reardon, 11/15/15, 11/2011.