Navigating Family and Friends this Holiday Season

Navigating Family and Friends this Holiday Season

With the holidays upon us, it’s time for many of us to gather with family and friends for holiday parties and festivities. For people recovering from addiction, this can be an especially difficult time of year. Most people, unless they have firsthand experience dealing with this, have no real framework for understanding addiction and recovery; this includes family and friends. So how do we navigate these tense situations when we are being offered alcohol?

What if they have no idea about what I’ve been through?

Tell your story. If you feel comfortable letting family or friends who are unaware of your recovery, let them know. People cannot understand where you are right now or where you hope to go if they don’t understand where you have been. When friends and family members hear you speak openly of your terrible experience, they are far more likely to support you in doing whatever it takes support your journey.

What if they don’t understand?

Realize that they may not understand, and they don’t have to. Your recovery is dependent upon your actions only. Many people who have struggled with substance abuse and successfully recovered never had the support or understanding of their families. In these situations, it’s important to find people who will support you from outside your family.

What if they continue to offer me alcohol?

You may hear, “you used drugs, alcohol won’t hurt”, or “it’s the holidays, celebrate with us.” You don’t owe anyone an explanation. When it comes to family or friends, these situations can be a bit more intense, so you can continue to decline or leave. Removing yourself from a potentially harmful situation is always a safe bet. Possibly upsetting a few family members or friends is better than returning to actively using or drinking.

How can I control the situation?

They are a few things you can do to prepare for potential pitfalls and holiday parties. The first is to host the party yourself. If you can and are willing to, you can control what is in your home and eliminate some hazards that may arise. The other is to always have a way to leave at a moment’s notice. It can help to have a sober buddy on speed dial. If things get a little hairy call your support person to pick you up. Lastly, don’t put yourself into a known bad situation. Is risking your recovery worth appeasing friends or family?

Remember this.

Family or friends may never agree with your change in lifestyle, they may never recognize your recovery or your need for sobriety, they may never understand what you went through – they don’t need to. You are on this pathway because it is what’s best for you and it’s the one you chose to take. It’s always easier to take this journey with the support of others, but you can and will continue in recovery with or without them. It is not your job to reason with them or change minds. Just keep on.

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