The holiday season is quickly approaching. In this twenty-first century, the winter holidays are both a joyous and stressful time of the year-a time when social gatherings with friends, family and co-workers are happening all around us. Little children are excited at seeing all the sights and experiencing the festivities. For many adults and some children, this can also be a stressful time.
Many of us overcommit to school, church, and work programs. When you add shopping, baking, gift buying, house decorating and entertaining, many will find themselves a little busier than they care to be.
Now, let’s add one more element to the mix: a family member or close friend who is either in recovery or needs to be. How does this impact the scenario?
First, we’ll talk about the person in recovery; and for the sake of discussion, we’ll talk about he or she being in early recovery (the first year or two). Then we’ll move to the person who should be in recovery.
The man or woman in early recovery, who is experiencing the holiday season clean and sober for the first or second time, may also feel a little overwhelmed. For him or her, this time of year can be bittersweet. Most will be excited about going through this season sober or drug-free for the first time in a long time. They may also be remembering some of the past holidays that were, shall we say, “less than ideal”.
For the person new in recovery this is no time to slack off when it comes to attending support groups. Stress is the number one reason for a relapse. Those in early recovery need to be aware of the many things that can trigger a poor decision. Spending some extra time with friends who are also in recovery can make all the difference.
Now, let’s shift our thinking to person number two-the one who needs to be in recovery. How do we handle this situation-especially when this is someone we are about? When the person is someone we may even be living with? What can we do?
What we decide to do may depend on how severely this person’s addiction has progressed. As family members or friends, we too will need to “vent”. For some, it means just making the best of a difficult situation. There may be children involved who don’t understand what’s going on. Finding someone to talk with will make a big difference for us as well. There are a number of resources to take advantage of. Many of them are available at no cost. It just takes a little looking around.
Al-Anon, for adults as well as teens, family groups at a local treatment center, church and community groups-all want to help. One of the great things people experience after attending one of these resources is the peace of knowing that they are not alone. Many other people are experiencing the same thing. People in these groups can offer hope in the midst of what may appear to be a very stressful and hopeless time. “This too shall pass.”
Have you “tried everything?” To learn about individual counseling with Joe Herzanek (in person or by phone) click here.
(Joe now offers counseling to the alcoholic/addict— as well as to family members)