How To Have A Sober Christmas With Loved Ones In Recovery
Loved ones of people in addiction recovery can help them to stay sober by having alcohol-free events, minimizing triggers in the home, checking in with them, and more. Treatment is available for people who need more support this Christmas.
Recovery during the festive season of Christmas and the New Year can be trying. Your loved one may be feeling added pressure if this is their first Christmas season being sober.
If you have a spouse, family member, or friend who is a recovering alcoholic or overcoming drug addiction, they’ll need your support more than ever this time of year.
From going to the office party sober with your loved one to having non-alcoholic-drinks at your annual Christmas party, there are many ways you can show your support.
Ways You Can Help Your Loved One In Recovery Through Christmas
Whether you’re hosting an event or going to one with your loved one in recovery, there are a few ways you can make this year look different than Christmases past.
In addition to serving alcohol-free drinks during this festive period, you can take other steps to make your loved one more comfortable during a time of vulnerability and newfound sobriety.
Re-Think A Few Holiday Traditions
For many people, part of the fun of enjoying the holidays includes annual office Christmas parties with substance use in the workplace or bar-hopping night for Christmas Eve.
But for a person in recovery, these functions may no longer be realistic to attend if there are drugs or alcohol involved.
Be mindful of the traditions that might be triggering or involve substances. If there are traditions you, your friends, or your family usually host, find ways to make it an alcohol-free night.
If your loved one usually goes to events hosted by their friends or work Christmas parties and they know they’ll be around heavy drinkers, encourage them to say no this year. Or, make a game plan for how to have a sober celebration.
Minimize Triggers In The House
Whether you live with your loved one in addiction recovery or they’ll be visiting your home for the holidays, it’s helpful to do what you can to minimize triggers in the house.
A person can have both emotional and physical triggers. For now, you can focus on eliminating some of the physical triggers to show your support for their recovery.
Here are a few steps you might take:
- Remove all substances from the house. You can remove alcohol, cigarettes, prescription painkillers, or other substances your loved one may feel tempted by.
- Remove drug paraphernalia. Common household items (spoons, straws, baggies, empty pill bottles, lighters) can be triggers for people in recovery from drug abuse.
- Put away money. Loose cash or credit cards can be a trigger for someone in recovery.
- Consider personal triggers. Ask your loved ones what their triggers are. Anything from an old backpack to a piece of furniture might be hard for someone in recovery to see.
Check In With Them
One of the best ways you can support your loved one in recovery over Christmas is to be there for them physically and emotionally.
Leading up to Christmas and on Christmas Day, take the time to check in with them to see how they’re doing. Ask them questions, lend a listening ear, and work on spending time with them.
With stress from gift-buying, family tensions, and societal expectations, your loved one might be having a difficult time coping with certain emotions or memories.
Here are a few questions you can ask when you check in with your loved one in recovery:
- How have you been feeling physically and emotionally lately?
- Is there anything that’s bothering you or causing you to feel stressed?
- How can I best support you right now?
- What can I do to make Christmas easier for you this year?
- I’m proud of you for prioritizing your recovery. What can I do to help you to stay sober?
- Is there anything you’re lacking right now? How can I help you to meet those needs?
Avoid Enabling Behavior
If you want to support your loved one on Christmas, it’s important that you keep their sobriety in mind at all times.
It’s easy to participate in enabling behaviors, especially over Christmas. This time of the year, it’s hard to say no or do something that might cause tension with someone you love in recovery.
Especially if this is your loved one’s first sober Christmas, they may not be fully prepared to get through the holiday season without doing drugs or drinking alcohol.
Enabling behavior during Christmas time might include:
- giving money as a Christmas gift
- turning a blind eye when you see your loved one having a drink at Christmas dinner
- making excuses for your loved one when they’re using
- assuming they won’t drink or use drugs because it’s Christmas
- taking over their responsibilities
Learn About The Recovery Process
One way to show your support this Christmas is to take the time to learn about the recovery process.
Consider what your loved one has done for their recovery so far. Have they been going to therapy, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, or completed an inpatient treatment program?
Knowing where they are in their recovery is essential. Then, you can explore holiday relapse prevention techniques and help your loved one to implement those into the Christmas season.
If they’ve been in treatment already, they’ve likely learned a few practical relapse prevention tools. Ask them what they are, and figure out how to best put these techniques to use.
You may also want to be aware of the signs that your loved one has relapsed, and be ready to respond if a relapse occurs over Christmas.
Help Your Loved One To Find A Support Network
You and your loved one will have the best chance for sobriety success this Christmas if they have a support network they can lean on.
You are a part of this network, but they also need others they can turn to. This way, they’re getting support from multiple people, and you don’t hold all responsibility for helping them in their sobriety.
Here’s how you can help your loved one in addiction recovery to find a support network:
- encourage them to go to therapy
- connect them with friends and family members
- help your loved one to find a peer support group
- encourage them to reach out to a recovery mentor
Help Your Loved One In Addiction Recovery Over Christmas
You and your loved one in addiction recovery can have a sober Christmas and New Year’s Eve by implementing a few practical changes into your holiday celebrations.
If they’re ready for more help, there are treatment options available.
Reach out to our helpline today to learn about your recovery options and have a sober Christmas.
Written by Spring Hill Editorial Team
©2022 Spring Hill Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved
This page does not provide medical advice.
- National Center for Biotechnology Information — What Is the “Trigger” of Addiction? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7186308/'
- National Institute on Drug Abuse — Treatment and Recovery https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery
- University of Pennsylvania Health System — Enabling Behaviors http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/addiction/berman/family/enabling.html