It’s the holidays, and for many individuals in recovery, it’s time for fun, family gatherings and careful planning. The next few weeks will present you with a maze of potential triggers and situations that you will need to navigate through.
Since entering recovery, you learned how to identify your particular triggers and the importance of avoiding them. But what happens if it’s the holidays and family conflict is one of your big triggers? If you’re planning on attending any family gathering, start making plans now..
The holidays and family conflict
There is something about the holidays that seems to bring up strong emotions. Joyful, happy emotions may be accompanied by powerful feelings of loss, resentment or anger. Nowhere are these emotions more on display than during holiday family gatherings.
In the past, you might have dealt with these family events and all the issues through substance use. Now that you are in recovery, attending these gatherings can become much more challenging. If your family members are drinking or using substances, it can cause tempers to flare, confrontations and surface past resentments. So, let’s learn how to manage these situations and protect your recovery.
How to navigate family conflicts during the holidays in recovery
As tempting as it might be to rely on old and unhealthy habits, try the best you can to follow the recovery principles you learned while in treatment. Here are some tips to navigate these family challenges as they arise:
- Be the peacemaker: If you happen to witness an argument between some family members, try to persuade them to put their differences aside. Sometimes, the presence of a third party can de-escalate the tension.
- Take the high road: If you find yourself involved in a heated discussion, try to resist the temptation to respond in kind. As much as you would love to snap back in anger, take the high road instead.
- Redirect the energy: One of the best tactics for dealing with family conflicts at a holiday party is to redirect the involved parties’ attention. Suggest going outside for some soccer or basketball, or make some popcorn and put on a holiday movie.
How to handle toxic family relationships
A little family drama during the holidays is one thing, but toxic family relationships are another. It is critical that you establish firm boundaries to protect your sobriety. This also means recognizing if a person in your life is toxic — even if it is a family member. Here are some suggestions on how to handle a toxic person in your life.
- Assess the relationship: Make an honest assessment of the relationship — if there are more negatives than positives, it’s okay to distance yourself from them.
- Communicate your concerns: If you want to make things work, go ahead and communicate your concerns and your expectations, and stick to it.
- Be willing to walk away: It may be a painful step to take, but if the family member is toxic and poses a threat to your recovery, you must be willing to walk away.
The holidays are supposed to be a time of peace and harmony. Follow these tips to avoid conflict and embrace the beauty of the season.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders. Our programs are accredited by The Joint Commission, and result in frequent publications of ongoing research into effective treatment methodologies. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call 866-313-6307.