A support system is essential for everyone undergoing or recovering from alcohol addiction, especially during the holiday season.
Alcohol addiction is inherently complex and can feel isolating for many addicts. Unfortunately, the holiday season can further complicate these feelings of loneliness for some people, but it does not have to be that way. If someone in your family struggles with addiction or is in recovery, you and everyone else in your household can step it up and provide comfort and support.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and we are all thinking of our family bonds and counting our blessings. However, this time of year comes with the stress of navigating deep-seated family tensions and fear of saying the wrong things to the wrong people.
In today’s blog, we are offering guidance to help you and your family have a comforting, smooth Thanksgiving celebration and general holiday season this year.
1. Manage Your Expectations
Let go of the expectation of hosting the perfect Thanksgiving dinner, as it is a recipe for disaster. It is impossible to have the perfect holiday when there are different personalities and age ranges under the same roof. This applies to families who do not have a loved one living with addiction because tension can arise at a moment’s notice, particularly if your family has not seen each other in months.
It is essential for you and your family to understand that just because this day is all about spending time together and feasting, it does not mean your addicted or recovering relative will be magically cured just in time for dinner. Unfortunately, the stress of wanting to appear alright in front of the family can make your loved one act erratic and feel overwhelmed.
Rather than imagining picture-perfect Thanksgiving scenarios, it is best to use the day before the gathering to accept the reality of the situation. Holding unrealistic expectations over your loved one’s head will only lead to frustration for them and the rest of your family.
2. Have a Serious Talk with Your Family
Alcohol addiction does not only impact the person who is living with it, but also their support system. We recommend gathering with the rest of your family before Thanksgiving to air out any concerns. Chances are, other members of your family may be grappling with the same worries that you are dealing with. Although having these conversations may seem challenging and disagreements may arise, it is best to deal with it beforehand instead of at the dinner table.
More importantly, getting these difficult conversations out of the way is crucial so that your loved one living with addiction does not have to hear anyone discussing them. Sadly, some addicts are quick to blame themselves if anything starts to go wrong, even if it is not their fault.
3. Do Not Be Afraid to Set Boundaries
You should set boundaries that your loved one will have to abide by if they want to be able to participate this Thanksgiving. By defining boundaries, you will be able to feel more in control of the situation. Having some form of norms in place will give you peace of mind because there will be no surprises when your addicted loved one shows up, and it will also give them enough time to adopt any major changes before the big night. At the same time, it is crucial not to get carried away. Make sure that your boundaries are reasonable and achievable.
One example is asking your loved one to dress up nicely for the gathering. By looking put-together, people are more likely to carry themselves with dignity and respect. Consider asking your loved one to do their best to stay sober; however, it is worth noting that addiction is a chronic disease. We recommend phrasing this request in such a way that lets your loved one know that you understand their plight, and you know they may be tempted to drink alcohol, but they can turn to you instead. Since your loved one cannot control these cravings, letting them know that you will not judge them for it is the next best step you can take.
Although you may be too nervous to set boundaries, putting some in place now will help you build understanding and respect for each other’s emotions. Remember, your feelings are just as valid as anyone else’s.
4. Do Not Serve Alcohol
Thanksgiving is not just about you and your desires, but it is also equally about everyone else in your family. One of your main priorities should be to show your loved one support, and one easy way to do this during Thanksgiving is by not serving alcoholic beverages at dinner. By promoting an alcohol-free environment, you are reducing the likelihood of this special night going awry. Best of all, you are making it easier for your loved one to actually enjoy the holiday by removing the temptation to drink—if alcohol is not present, they cannot abuse it.
Being considerate of your loved one’s addiction and prohibiting alcohol at the gathering will ensure that everyone gets to enjoy each other’s company sober. Moreover, it also helps your loved one not to cross your established boundaries.
5. Understand That Thanksgiving May Not Be for Them
Even if you plan everything carefully and show nothing but support to your loved one, they may not want to attend your Thanksgiving celebration this year. After all, this holiday can be too painful and stressful for someone suffering from addiction, so it is best to respect their wishes. If your loved one opts out of celebrating, you need to respect their decision but still be their support system. The both of you can arrive at a mutual agreement and decide to gather on another day. Besides, there will be plenty of Thanksgivings to celebrate and cherish in the future! Your loved one may just be asking for more time to recuperate from their addiction before making any major appearances.
Rehab can be a significant first step in helping an addict reclaim their life so that they can step into a world free of drugs or alcohol. There is nothing bad about checking into a rehab center, and your loved one will receive the best care imaginable to help them get back on their feet. Whether this is your loved one’s first time enrolling into a recovery program, or it is their second time, the best treatment centers welcome people from all strides of life with open arms.
The value of addicts having a support system during the holiday season (and every day) cannot be overstated. If your or a loved one is grappling with addiction, Ardu Recovery Center is here to help. We are a residential addiction treatment and rehabilitation facility specializing in alcohol, drug, and opiate detox, as well as dual diagnosis.
Our experts combine modern holistic techniques with traditional treatment modalities to ensure that our residents are healing physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Reach out to us today with any questions you may have. We are located in scenic Provo, Utah.