The holidays for many people are a time filled with good times and good memories, a time when families get together to celebrate the season. It’s also a time when addicts must make an extra effort to avoid relapsing into substance abuse. They often struggle to stay away from people and situations that enabled their addiction. The holiday season can provide an increase in temptation for anyone with substance abuse issues.
Ignoring Their Condition
The holiday season can be a time when drug addicts and alcoholics want to ignore their condition. They want to participate fully in the family gatherings, parties and time with friends. This can often result in them returning to their life of addiction. The thought of experiencing the struggles associated with leaving their addiction is too much for some addicts. A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control showed that many suicides by addicts over the holiday season resulted from a relapse of substance abuse. Over 32 percent of addicts who committed suicide had excessive amounts of alcohol while over 8 percent had a positive test for cocaine.
Friends and Family
The holiday season is also a time when friends and family must work together to help a loved one battle addiction. Many recovering addicts become depressed because they aren’t financially able to purchase gifts for other people. Friends and family can step in and help by reassuring the addict they understand the situation. When seldom seen relatives are visiting, it may be best to work together to avoid uncomfortable conversations. Most addicts are very sensitive to criticism of their situation. It’s a time for understanding. It’s most important that families not ignore the addict’s situation, but accept it. When a family helps an addict to successfully navigate the holidays, the recovery process will be easier and more successful.
If someone abuses alcohol, there are a variety of non-alcoholic drinks that can be made during the holiday season. Everything from mixing fruit juice with sparkling water to fruit smoothies and more are great things to have during the holidays. An addict must know which parties they should not attend. Trying to just stay for a short time and then leaving could be risky. If an addict must attend a party, it may be best if they go with a friend or family member who is also dedicated to their recovery. This type of support is essential in these situations. It will take time for an addict to develop the social skills necessary to not give in to their addiction.
One of the biggest challenges an addict may face during the holiday season is the desire to isolate themselves. Many feel that people in their social circle may not accept them if they don’t behave like they did during their addiction. It’s a big mistake for a recovering addict to avoid social interaction. Doing this could lead to severe depression, especially during the holiday season. It’s important they avoid comparing themselves to others in their family as well as their circle of friends. It’s important for an addict to know they can reach out for help. Loneliness has driven many individuals recovering from substance abuse into another round of addiction.
During the holidays, a recovering addict struggles with painful reminders of what they were at one time. It’s important an addict anticipate this prior to the holiday season and develop a plan to handle it. This could involve working with friends and family members willing to help. An addict may need to be reminded that they can’t behave a certain way at this time. It may also require a substance abuser agreeing to remove themselves from specific situations when it is suggested by a friend or family member. When someone is recovering from an addiction, they will be grieving the loss of their former life. They may be grieving the results of past behaviors. With the right amount of support, the holidays can also be a time of addicts better understanding themselves.
The holidays are also a time when a recovering addict must learn to deal with their resentment. People who have upset them in the past may be living in their minds rent-free. These resentments seem to increase during the holiday season. They can be very dangerous to a person’s sobriety. It is a real challenge for an addict to not let resentments influence their behavior and decisions. They must not let resentment have power over them during the holiday season.
Enjoy the Holidays
As much of a challenge as the holidays can be for a recovering addict, they can also be fun. With the right attitude, addicts can find ways to enjoy themselves. They can refuse to worry about financial problems and focus more on enjoying time with family and friends. A holiday season experienced with sobriety may offer many positive experiences. They may enjoy the holiday season in an entirely new way. Opportunities may become available for friends and family to also enjoy the addict’s sobriety.