While mental health and addiction treatment centers primarily focus on individuals struggling with substance use disorder or mental health conditions, they are also available to help the friends and family members of those in recovery. The value of sober holiday family support should not be underestimated, as it can be the missing link to lasting sobriety.
You will find that New Start Recovery offers an abundance of holiday articles to help people in recovery avoid relapse during annual festivities. But this year, we would like to encourage and remind families to foster a supportive environment for their sober loved ones. Most of these tips for sobriety during the holidays are also relevant year-round, but the holiday season is the prime time to put them into practice. If you need further support helping your loved one enjoy a sober holiday season, reach out to us at [Direct>.
Do Not Patronize a Person in Recovery
Supporting a newly sober loved one presents complications. Although you may be tempted to baby them with constant checking in, these sorts of questions often come across as patronizing or even humiliating:
- Asking if it will be okay for you to have a drink around them – While it seems thoughtful to be considerate, you will want to avoid this question on the spot. It puts your sober loved one in an awkward position and acts as a wet blanket for whatever you do. If you are that worried about it, ask your loved one very casually when there is no bar or server in front of you. This alleviates pressure so they will not feel like they are depriving you of anything if they prefer you not drink in front of them.
- Asking if you should notify others that they are in recovery – It is not your place to share this information. Managing sobriety is a very personal journey, and part of that journey is learning to say no to temptation. If they are not ready to politely refuse a drink at a party, they may not be ready to attend an event where alcohol is served. Setting healthy boundaries is one of the first things they learn in rehab. It is your loved one’s call whether they want to break anonymity or not.
- Asking what they talked about in group – Asking how they are doing in treatment is okay, but asking for specifics comes across as invasive and perhaps even violating. Alcoholics Anonymous was named to emphasize the anonymity that allows members to share their problems without fear of being exposed or emotionally compromised at work or home. If you think your loved one needs to talk about their issues, though, you should ask if they would like to talk about anything.
Patronizing is a counterproductive approach to handling your recovering loved one. It is not usually intentional and may be your way of helping someone in recovery have a sober holiday; however, intent does not always translate well.
Stash Liquor Bottles Out of Sight for a Sober Holiday
It may be inconvenient to make liquor less accessible, but alcohol bottles act as huge triggers for people in early recovery. You do not have to completely get rid of all your alcohol (although it helps), but try to keep it out of view. This makes it easier to maintain sobriety during holidays.
Offer to Seek the Help They Need for a Sober Holiday Season
Not all people are in a good place in their sobriety during holidays. They may be in early recovery, have relapsed, or have never been to treatment, to begin with. Whatever the case, if they need help, they are not likely to seek it out for themselves. Calling a treatment center is a quick and easy way to offer them options for getting back on track. Our addiction counselors are available 24/7 at [Direct>.
Offer Them Rides to Their Meetings
While some people in recovery prefer to keep their meeting locations private, others would appreciate the gesture. With the availability of Uber and Lyft services, their meeting locations can remain relatively private regardless. Anything to make their outpatient program easier is a thoughtful surprise, especially for people in early recovery. It is also great for showing family support for sobriety during holidays.
Make Nonalcoholic Holiday-Themed Drinks
Holiday parties are no fun for people in recovery when all the Christmas-themed drinks contain alcohol. Too many boozy spirits can put a damper on the Christmas spirit. While immediate family often remains on high alert for relapse triggers, extended family and friends hosting adult-only holiday parties do not always feel so compelled. But the simple act of offering inclusive nonalcoholic drink options allows sober loved ones to feel less tempted to relapse on the sly.
Here are some fun festive alcohol-free drink options that you can make or that you can nudge toward your loved ones to make for you:
- Sparkling Gingerale Apple Punch
- Christmas Morning Punch
- Gingerbread Hot Chocolate
- Slow Cooker Mexican Hot Chocolate
You do not need to make a big deal out of providing mocktails since it can come across as patronizing. Your loved one may prefer discretion.
Family Support Means Healthy Boundaries at New Start Recovery
Healthy boundaries can help you avoid coming across as overbearing or aloof toward a loved one’s recovery. At New Start Recovery, we understand that it can be challenging to understand the nuances if you do not know what boundaries look like for someone enrolled in an addiction treatment program. If you need help learning what those look like, we encourage you to join our free open family support group nights. Check our calendar for dates. If you or someone you love is ready to get help for a substance abuse problem, call one of our addiction counselors today at [Direct>.