When an individual enters recovery, having the love and support of family can be a powerful motivator to stay the course. During the holidays, families are provided with the perfect backdrop to express their support. However, it is common for family members to feel a bit unsure about how to provide that support and may appreciate some helpful tips. If you can relate, read on to learn how to support a loved one in recovery this holiday season.
The importance of family support during recovery
There is a reason why family therapy is included in substance use treatment programs. Family-focused group work helps the family members cultivate healthier functioning and better communication, as well as education about their loved one’s substance use disorder and recovery needs. Because of the special bond that exists between family members, they become an essential source of support.
6 tips for families with a sober loved one this holiday season
The holidays can be stressful and demanding, causing most of us to abandon our healthy eating habits, get insufficient sleep and skip our workouts in an attempt to keep up with the pace of the holidays. For a loved one in recovery, these kinds of responses to stress can be detrimental to maintaining sobriety. You can help your loved one navigate the added stresses and challenges of the season in these six ways:
- Respect their decisions: If your sober loved one decides to leave a family gathering early, be supportive. They may be experiencing anxiety or responding to a trigger and just want to do the right thing to protect themselves. Your loved one may even decide to skip the family event altogether, which may be disappointing, but try to be respectful of their needs.
- Practice forgiveness: The holidays provide a wonderful opportunity for families to practice forgiveness, especially if the sober loved one is genuinely trying to make amends for the past. Graciously accept their overtures when asking for forgiveness, and allow the healing process to begin.
- Ask them what they need: There is bound to be some anxiety facing the holidays newly sober. Keep the lines of communication wide open, and don’t hesitate to ask them how they are doing and if there is anything you can do to lighten their stress load. If they are struggling with sobriety during the holidays, don’t be shy about suggesting they see the therapist or attend extra meetings.
- Keep the gatherings substance free: Show your support for your loved one by removing a potential trigger, namely alcohol, from the holiday gatherings. Hopefully, the whole family will be willing to support this decision. Find some delicious holiday beverages to serve, and no one will even miss the alcohol.
- Find a volunteer project: Giving back is a central theme of Alcoholics Anonymous, as helping others can actually strengthen an individual’s recovery. As a family, find a local charity event in your community or at your place of worship that you can all participate in together.
- Set and honor boundaries: To protect their recovery, your loved one may feel the need to establish some boundaries. As their family members, you may need to put down some boundaries. This is a natural part of the recovery process, and should be supported and not resented. Respect each other’s boundaries.
Hopefully, these handy tips provide you with some helpful guidance as you look forward to enjoying some special family time this holiday 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