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Supporting an Opioid Addict During the Holidays

by Nick

While many believe that the holidays bring out the best in people, if your loved one struggles with opioid addiction or another substance use disorder, the stress and chaos of the holiday season may be too much for them to bear. Especially if they are new to recovery, they may need extra encouragement, support and understanding from you and others who care about their sobriety.

Why the Holidays and Opioid Addiction Don’t Mix

The pressures of the holidays can get to anyone. Yet, for someone struggling with an addiction to opioids or another substance, this time of year can awaken long-dormant cravings. Each individual is different, but here are some factors that make the holiday season difficult for those recovering from addiction:

  • Isolation and loneliness during a family-focused time
  • Financial stress from gift-giving and travel
  • Chaotic schedules throwing usual routines off balance
  • Dysfunctional family dynamics
  • Gatherings and parties where alcohol flows freely

Tips for How to Support an Addict During the Holidays

Helping a person who is struggling to stay sober during the holidays is a true way to honor the spirit of the season. Whether it’s a family member or friend, here are some ideas for supporting someone struggling with addiction during the holidays.

Set Realistic Expectations

While most people want to create a perfect holiday, this is often unattainable. It’s also not fair to expect your newly sober loved one to act like there’s nothing wrong. They may be struggling with difficult emotions, such as shame or guilt, or find it hard to be around a lot of people. Have a conversation ahead of time about what they’re up for in terms of gatherings or events, and respect their limitations.

Don’t Bring Up the Past

Addiction has a wide reach. You and others in your addicted loved one’s life were probably hurt or angered by their past behaviors and actions. The holidays are not the time to bring up past grievances or force them to apologize. This can spoil your gathering, and stirring up these negative emotions can also put your loved one at risk of relapse. Instead, choose forgiveness and trust that there will be opportunities for discussing the past later.

Plan a Sober-Friendly Event

Wine, champagne and cocktails flow freely at many holiday gatherings. For those recovering from opioid addiction, being in the presence of alcohol could trigger a relapse. Instead, plan sober-friendly activities that everyone can enjoy. This could include trimming the tree, venturing out to view Christmas lights, baking cookies or a group game night.

Encourage Your Loved One’s Recovery Journey

Addiction is a disease. Breaking free from this chronic condition requires strength, resilience and bravery. While your loved one may have hurt you in the past, now is the time to offer the gift of encouragement. Tell them you’re proud of the steps they’ve taken and that each day they remain sober is a victory.

Contact Health Care Resource Centers for More Information About Opioid Addiction Treatment

If you know someone struggling with opioid addiction, HCRC can help. For over 25 years, we’ve supported patients throughout New England wanting to break free from opioid use disorder. The holiday season is the perfect time to find comprehensive, individualized addiction treatment and reclaim your life.

Contact HCRC today to learn more.

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