Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays…for better, or for worse! There is excitement in the air, renewed hope, and happiness. For some, there’s also tension, disappointment, anxiety, and loneliness. If you or a loved one is in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, all of those emotions can constitute a minefield, but there are ways to get through the holiday season with sobriety intact.
Clean & Sober Happy Holiday Tips
The same tips that help people in recovery stay clean and sober can help “normies” have a happier holiday, too. In fact, one of the best ways you can support a loved one in recovery from addiction is to follow healthy habits. As you read these tips, think about how you might follow them yourself to ensure a happy holiday for all.
How to Cope with Stress
No matter what your relationship with drugs and alcohol is like, you’re probably familiar with the crushing pressure of stress—and the tendency to eat, drink, or act unhealthily in response. For people in recovery, though, stress can be especially dangerous because picking up one drink to “soften the edge” can turn into a serious binge that derails their whole life.
Everyone in your family can benefit from healthy stress relief habits. Try exercise, cooking, cleaning, petting a dog, going for a walk outside, journaling, reading, listening to music, or listening to a podcast instead of picking up something to numb the pain. If you do them as a family during the holidays, it can be a happy bonding activity, too.
Make it a Mocktail
The very best way to support someone in recovery is to keep alcohol and other intoxicants out of their environment altogether. However, if alcohol is going to be served at your gathering, be sure you warn your loved one ahead of time so they’re able to prepare to keep themselves safe. (That might mean not attending, and you might need to accept that!)
If they are going to be attending a gathering where you are serving alcohol, make sure to have plenty of appetizing non-alcoholic options. Soft drinks like soda are a given, but a healthy mocktail can be a show of support that your whole family may enjoy.
Encourage a Structured Day
Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” That’s even more true when it comes to recovery. You can’t just wing it.
When your loved one is home for the holidays, plan activities to help them adopt a structured day, like they experienced at residential treatment. Structure helps people focus, and removes room for impulsive actions.
Plan a family trip to the gym. Get everyone involved in cooking dinner. Bring the family to church. Support their choice to go to a 12 Step meeting.
Even if the activities you choose are not directly related to recovery, hours spent away from drugs and alcohol are hours that help someone in recovery heal.
Recognize Addiction Triggers
If your loved one went through addiction treatment, they are likely familiar with their “triggers” — people, places, and things that spark the desire within them to use drugs or alcohol.
Knowledge is power, and you can prepare a safe environment by asking them what kinds of things might trigger cravings. The answers might surprise you. While a bottle of alcohol on the counter obviously poses a problem, typical household items like tinfoil, spoons, or almond extract can be triggers as well.
Triggers are avoidable in recovery, but you can do your part to help create a safe environment for your loved one.
Continuing Addiction Treatment Care
When it comes to supporting your loved one in recovery, you don’t have to do it alone.
Professional continuing care has proven to have a substantial effect on an individual’s recovery. That’s why we offer a robust addiction treatment aftercare program.
So, while your loved one is home for the holidays, they could have one of our nationally certified recovery coaches supporting them as well.
To learn more about our program and holiday coping strategies, feel free to contact us here.