The festive period can be a difficult time for many people who are either suffering from addiction or are in recovery. It’s a time when parties are in full swing and the likes of alcohol and substances are pretty much everywhere you look.
So, for family members of people who do struggle with addiction, it’s important they look after their loved ones to ensure they do indeed have a happy Christmas.
Supporting someone through alcohol addiction can be tricky at this time of year, but there are tons of small things you can do to make a difference. And here are five of those things…
Open and Non-Judgmental Communication
Firstly, being open and honest is vital. The cornerstone of supporting any loved one through addiction and the difficult times that come with it is opening communication lines in a non-judgemental way. They need to feel supported, and creating a safe space in which a loved one feels comfortable in reaching out is key to this.
It’s a simple case of letting them know you are there, particularly during the challenging times, and you’d be amazed by just how powerful that can be.
To do that, it can be as simple as sending them a text message, asking them how they are doing, or sometimes just offering an arm round the shoulder. They’re all signs that we’re here to talk, we’re not judgemental and we can adapt to suit their needs, particularly if they are worrying about the period.
Honesty is key and it should be front and center throughout the season, particularly for loved ones who are perhaps going through their very first sober Christmas.
Plan Sober Celebrations
You could offer support in other ways too, by going sober with them, even if it’s just for a night. Not every festive gathering has to revolve around alcohol, and there are some great ideas which don’t do that at all.
There are so many sober celebrations that can be enjoyed these days, particularly to suit all interests. Among the more common of these include going to the theater, enjoying a movie night, taking in a winter walk as well as so much more.
Other good ideas for sober celebrations include:
- Ice skating
- Christmas markets
- Wreath making or other crafts
- Cookery classes
- Escape rooms
- Mini golf
- Scavenger hunts
All of these can be done without a drop of alcohol, and often will be much more fun too! After all, who doesn’t want to get out and make memories during the festive season?
Educate Yourself and Others
Understanding and being empathetic with what a loved one is going through can also go a long way. That begins with educating yourself about the finer details of addiction. It not only helps reduce stigma, but also will enable you to be more compassionate and supportive around what they’re going through.
There are many online resources that can help with this, from understanding how people develop addiction alongside the trigger points that can lead to relapse, to how withdrawal symptoms can really affect people. Alongside being able to support and understand what they’re going through more, it will also encourage them to be more vocal about alcohol addiction, as they’ll appreciate you do understand and know what you’re talking about.
At present, when more people are struggling with addiction than ever before, it’s important we learn about these issues anyway, so why not start now?
Offer Practical Assistance
You can actually support in many ways, and helping relieve stress can be a crucial one at this time of year. Stress can be a huge factor in relapsing and by taking stress off a loved one’s shoulders can be really beneficial to them. It could be as simple as doing the grocery shop for them, preparing meals, or just taking the kids off them for a couple of hours, allowing them to focus on themselves.
It shows commitment to helping them, and again they know they have that help if they need it. Which can be a stress reliever in itself.
Ensuring stress is as significantly low as possible can make such a huge difference in keeping people on track at this time of year, or throughout any periods where someone is struggling. While going and doing the shopping or looking after children for an hour may only feel like a small thing to us, it will allow our loved ones to stick as much as they can to routine, as well as have the time to gather thoughts, engage in coping mechanisms and have less weighing on their mind, which is only going to help in relapse prevention.
Finally, just being an encouraging voice, especially when it comes to pushing them to look after themselves, can be just what they need. Enabling them to prioritise self-care is so important at this time of year, when often we feel in each other’s pockets 24/7.
That might mean pushing them to get professional help, or just taking a few hours away to have a bath or read a book. It’s these fine lines that can really make a difference and allow a person to stay on track with their sobriety. So, if a family member suffering needs to escape, or perhaps isn’t looking or acting like themselves, reach out and encourage them to take some time out. It can make all the difference.
All of the above can be relatively small changes to our own lives but make big changes to our loved ones, and during the festive season that can be even more amplified.
It is the season of goodwill, and showing them such goodwill can help ease stress and let them know that we are there for them, we love them, and we’re all on their team.
So, put away the bubbly, arrange some fun, sober activities and make it a real Christmas to remember. For all the right reasons…