Navigating the Holiday Season With Someone In Recovery
The holiday season, for anyone, can be overwhelming and stressful, however, it can be even more so for those who are in recovery. Most people who have been in recovery for a while or have a few years’ experience are more skilled at navigating the waters of temptation at holiday social gatherings. For those who are in their first year of recovery, it might be more of a challenge for them. It also might be more of a challenge for their friends and family, who might not know how best to celebrate the holidays comfortably and smartly around someone who is in recovery.
If you are planning on hosting a festive event and know that it might include inviting one of your friends who is new to recovery, it’s best to start by asking if there is anything you can do to make your holiday event(s) better for them. Your friend might perhaps want to bring another friend who is in recovery for moral support. Others might have a particular beverage preference, or their schedules might require them to step out to attend a meeting or simply to get some fresh air. Being mindful that the holiday season comes stacked with shopping, cooking, traveling, etc. therefore people in recovery might be experiencing deeper financial strains and personal stressors. All of this while simultaneously attempting to live without the substance that at one point was a major player in their lives can be a bit overwhelming.
While the holidays are a time for celebration and joy, they can also bring about memories of loved ones lost or intense feelings of hurt, anger, blame, shame (or guilt) about the recovering person’s past and how they might have brought this on their loved ones. Recovery in its early stages brings resurrected cognizance of the harm one has caused themselves or others during their active addiction. The brain and body are still repairing themselves and healing from the effects of addiction. People in early recovery are still learning how to handle and cope with feelings and emotions and how to properly function in social settings where the use of a substance is not an option.
Fortunately, many people do well in recovery over the holidays. Simply asking that person what you can do to help them in their recovery such as giving them space or allowing them the option to bring a sober friend to your event, can make a world of a difference.
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