Caring for Those with Addiction During the Holidays

by | Dec 15, 2023 | Blog

The holiday season is often characterized by joy, festivities, and the warmth of family gatherings. However, for those in the role of caretaker to a loved one living with addiction, this time of year brings unique challenges that can be hard to navigate. While others celebrate, caregivers find themselves grappling with the dynamics of addiction, looking to foster compassion and hope during a time that can be trying for both the person in recovery and those aiding in their journey. As difficult as it can be, there are things you can do to make the holidays easier on you and your family.

Lessen the importance of alcohol at your function

Binge drinking is a common occurrence during any major holiday, as it’s easy to let things get out of control during a celebration. If someone with addictive behaviors is attending your function, try to de-emphasize the importance of alcohol. For some, this may mean not offering any alcoholic beverages throughout the night. For others, a variety of mocktails alongside the wine selection will make your loved one feel included without being too tempted to compromise their progress.

Keep to your usual routine

Though it can be tricky to upkeep during the holidays, a structured routine is vital when caregiving for a person struggling with addiction. Sticking to a schedule can lessen the feeling of being out of control during the holiday season, reinforcing a sense of normalcy.

Things like holiday traveling, shopping, and cooking can throw off set schedules. Make life easier on yourself and your loved one by setting alarms, meal-prepping, and choosing to stay local for the holidays.

Manage triggers and anxiety

Whether your loved one is in active addiction or recovery, it is important to understand things that trigger them in order to make family gatherings successful. 1 in 5 people with anxiety report turning to alcohol or substance use in order to cope with stress, so attempting to reduce any major triggers is key in staying on track.

Open communication is integral when managing stressors of any kind, so don’t be afraid to have hard conversations during the holidays. You may want to talk with other family members about conversation topics that are off-limits. Perhaps questions about job hunting or romantic partners are sources of anxiety for the person struggling with addiction; suggest that these inquiries are directed at others or avoided altogether.

Take care of yourself first

When caregiving for someone struggling with addiction, it’s natural to want to devote all your energy towards aiding in their recovery. However, neglecting your own needs will inevitably lead to burnout and exhaustion, impacting your ability to offer effective help to your loved one. Taking care of yourself first involves setting boundaries, both emotional and physical, to protect your mental health. Ensure you make time for self-care activities, whether it’s engaging in hobbies, seeking support from friends and family, or just taking short breaks to recharge. Remember that you are allowed to enjoy the holidays, even if a person close to you is struggling. You are not responsible for the actions of the addicted person, and it is not your problem to fix alone.

Addiction is a challenging journey, and you can only offer meaningful help when you are in a stable and healthy state yourself. In prioritizing your well-being, you position yourself to be a more resilient and supportive caregiver in the long run.

Always remember

The holiday season can be an especially challenging time for those in the role of caregiver for individuals struggling with addiction. The demands of the holidays, coupled with the complexities of managing another’s substance abuse, can create a unique set of stressors. By fostering open communication, setting boundaries, and maintaining routines, caregivers can navigate the holiday season with resilience and provide the vital support your loved ones need.

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