Celebrating holidays with family can help recovery

There is stress for everyone as the holidays come around. Maybe there isn’t enough money for all of the things you want to do to celebrate. Perhaps there are family issues that you just don’t really want to struggle with and it all adds up to stress, stress, and more stress. People in recovery from substance abuse may also be stressed out just thinking about the confrontations that may occur at those festive family gatherings.

Stress can cause relapse. Family members who are critical with their judgments, or enablers who want to persuade you to take a nip of the snake that bit you, or family members who are just plain angry can contribute to starting again to use the substance of choice. Feeling alone or isolated also can have poor results. Someone still abusing the substance of choice will feel stress trying to hide their problem.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy provides some valuable information that will help both the recovering addict and family and friends to use the holidays to reconnect and rebuild relationships if everyone involved is ready for that step.

A few things to keep in mind is that the person new to recovery is still learning how to live without that drug that took control of their life. They are also dealing with difficult personal or economic situations. They are struggling with feelings of anger, guilt, hurt, resentment and shame. They also are very aware of the harm they caused not just to themselves, but to the people in their lives, when they chose to abuse substances. They are learning to experience, process and manage their feelings as well as learning how to behave in social environments.

Hosts should remember they are not responsible for their guest’s recovery even if it’s your child, sibling or parent. Are you and your family ready to share the holiday with the person who is in recovery? Is the person comfortable with celebrating with you at this time? If they are, is this person comfortable with the idea of alcohol being served at your gathering? Is there someone else they would like for you to invite, someone who doesn’t drink? What kinds of beverages would they prefer? Is there a place they can go to provide a step away from the gathering if they need to? If they don’t want any special accommodation, listen to them. Follow through with your plans.

For those in recovery, it is recommended that they have a plan for the holidays. Be sure to include meetings like AA, calls to sponsors, mentors, or others who are support during your recovery. What are your risk factors, things you should avoid and what will you do if you come face to face with them? Address your signs of possible relapse. Keep everything in perspective: there is nothing worth giving up on your recovery. You’ve committed to regaining your life and you’ve worked hard to get where you are. Keep it going.

But if you do relapse, don’t give up and don’t wait. Call for help immediately.

“The experience of sharing the holidays with family and friends can strengthen their recovery and reinforce the value of the fuller, more authentic way of life they are entering a time to reconnect and restore,” advises the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues. For more information about FRC’s programs contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468 or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org.

Giving Tuesday is Dec. 2, 2014. As you consider charitable gifts for the holiday season please visit www.familyrecovery.org and click “Donate” to support FRC’s mission to “make recovery a reality.