Supporting Loved Ones in Recovery During Holidays

For most of us, the holiday season is a cheerful time for celebrations and family gatherings. But for those recovering from addiction, holidays can add significant pressure and feelings of isolation. With excessive parties and colder, darker days, holidays can be extremely challenging and may even trigger relapse.

At Extra Mile Recovery, we know a thing or two about stress reduction, and just how difficult sobriety can be around the holidays. Here are some steps you can take to support your loved ones in recovery and ensure the holidays are as safe and enjoyable as possible.

Ask How You Can Help

The first and best proactive measure you should take to support your loved ones during this time is to listen. They may be hesitant to reach out with special requests, so take the initiative to ask what you can do to ease the pressure of the holiday season, from steering them clear of alcohol to intervening with certain family members who may cause controversy.

It’s important to be flexible with their needs, but also try to stay a step ahead of them: if you are unsure how they’ll respond to the presence of substances or particular people, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Father and son supporting each other through addiction recovery

Surround Your Loved One with Support

We can’t understate how important it is to let them know they can count on you. Offer support by listening to their concerns and making yourself available to help. Encourage them to connect with people from their treatment program, such as a mentor, sponsor, or friend, and suggest they attend additional meetings around the holidays for extra strength and support.

Most importantly, remind them their feelings are valid. With the extra pressure and emotions of the holiday season, it’s normal to feel stressed, anxious, or depressed — even in a “joyous” time of year.

Hold Them Accountable

Of course you should support your loved ones, but you must also continue to hold them accountable, regardless of the time of year. Don’t let the holiday season be an excuse for backsliding or developing new unhealthy coping methods: this is a time to reinforce their sobriety, not enable their bad habits that could lead to relapse. Make sure they are taking the right steps by continuing to attend outpatient treatments or recovery meetings, and be honest with them: it’s what they need.

Prepare Family Members

You can prevent unnecessary pressure on your loved ones by talking with their friends and family beforehand. Help them understand the nature of addiction and remind them of conversation topics or behaviors that can provoke those in recovery. While some may see no harm in a joke or a toast, such seemingly small actions can be a major relapse trigger.

Father and son having a cup of coffee over the holidays

Reduce Holiday Pressures

Although everyone experiences pressure throughout the holiday season, the excessive socialization and responsibilities can be very challenging for those in recovery. Try to reduce holiday pressures by scheduling smaller, more relaxed celebrations to avoid large gatherings that last for hours, and remind them that they can decline invitations or leave parties early if they feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable.

However, if they do participate in festivities, let them know ahead of time you’re there to help them out of a triggering situation by offering them a ride, calling them an Uber, or anything else they need.

Don’t Add Financial Stress

One of the more immediate stressors of the holidays is money. Holidays can be extremely expensive, and those in recovery may still be trying to get back on their feet. Find inclusive solutions to festivities and gift-giving that works for everyone instead of singling out your loved ones in recovery.

Consider giving all guests a budget to limit the cost of exchanging gifts, or suggest a smaller way to celebrate, like white elephant. You can also help them out financially by covering their travel expenses, making meals for them, or buying them restaurant gift cards.

We’re Here to Help

The holidays can be difficult, but Extra Mile Recovery is here year-round for extra support — especially the holidays. We offer individual counseling, group therapy, dual diagnosis management, and trauma-focused care to make sure that every client gets the attention and tools they need to succeed in trying times — and to ensure that no one gets left behind. We’re always here to help: just contact us at (662) 810-4146 or schedule with us online, and we’ll be with you right away.

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