The holidays are a stressful time for everyone, but recovering addicts may face more challenges than the average person. Overindulgent behaviour is generally encouraged during this time of year and may cause addicts to slip back into old patterns of negative behaviour. In addition, the stress associated with holiday commitments may tempt an addict to return to their drug of choice in order to cope.

With a family member in recovery, holiday traditions may take a back seat to what your loved one needs at this time in their life. There are a number of different ways you can provide support for your recovering family member so that you can enjoy this time of year together and begin making new holiday traditions.

Holiday Gatherings

If you have holiday gatherings to attend during this season, decide with your loved one if they will feel comfortable attending, and if so what triggers they will want to avoid. This can avoid making them feel stressed or pressured to indulge. This can also be a time to communicate to other family members about keeping gatherings free from temptation, for example not serving alcohol.

It’s often a good idea to arrive at gatherings early and leave early, this way your recovering family member can still take part in the festivities, without becoming overwhelmed or anxious. Let them know that they shouldn’t hesitate to skip a gathering or bow out early if they aren’t feeling emotionally prepared.

Avoid Triggers

Whether your loved one is staying in your home or living somewhere else during the holiday season, it’s important to support them by removing any triggers from your home, for example, alcohol. This may even include helping them to avoid people that they could have been involved with during their addiction. It’s important to set limits for your addicted family member and to clearly communicate these limits to your loved one and any other family members.

Provide Support

One of the best things you can do for a recovering addict is to simply be there to provide support. If they want to talk, be there to lend a sympathetic ear. If they don’t feel like talking, simply do your best to remain upbeat and non-judgmental. Let them know that you are available to talk if and when they need you.

Address the Issue Directly

Speak frankly with the recovering addict in your life about your concerns for the holidays and ask them to be open with you and communicate. Listen carefully and offer suggestions where you can. After an open dialogue, you can begin to develop a plan for dealing with the upcoming challenges.

Deal with Relapses Quickly

If a relapse does occur, treat it seriously. Don’t brush it off as a little seasonal fun. Address the issue with the addict, let them know you are concerned, and find out what they want to do. It’s a good idea to make a plan before the holidays begin and then stick to it. You may also want to make sure their therapist or councilor is on call during the holiday season for additional support if needed.

There are numerous resources available to assist in the difficult process of helping your family member recover from addiction. Promises created an in-depth eBook that covers topics related to supporting a family member through addiction. Take advantage of resources like this and others during this time of year to ensure your family has a peaceful and calm holiday season.


Promises Treatment Center is a member of Elements Behavioral Health, an owner of a series of behavioral health programs located throughout the United States. The Elements Behavioral Health family of programs offers comprehensive, innovative treatment for substance abuse, sexual addiction, trauma, eating disorders, and other mental health disorders. Through its programs, the company is committed to delivering clinically sophisticated treatment that promotes permanent lifestyle change, not only for the patient but for the entire family network.

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