By Michele Spofera
For many of us, the holiday season brings festive gatherings with family and friends, often celebrated with plentiful food and free-flowing spirits. For individuals living with alcohol use disorder, navigating these special occasions can be challenging, especially in early recovery. If you plan to share the holidays with a loved one impacted by alcohol use disorder, you can help in your loved one’s efforts by being proactive and keeping these tips in mind.
1. Ask how you can help, ahead of time!
Don’t be afraid to ask how you can best support a loved one’s sobriety and then proceed accordingly. For example, they may prefer that you don’t serve alcohol, that you don’t drink in their presence, or that you don’t invite a certain someone who may cause stress or triggering situations. Additionally, recognize that the gathering will likely be difficult for your loved one with alcohol use disorder, so try planning some fun distractions like a game, movie, or other enjoyable activities. Also, think about serving up some delicious and increasingly popular mocktails as an alternative to drinks containing alcohol.
2. Reduce social pressures!
Reassure your loved one that it is okay to decline an invitation, forego a certain activity, or leave the gathering early. Let your loved one know beforehand that you will be there to help them out of a difficult or triggering situation and be prepared to provide or arrange for your loved one’s ride home.
3. Prepare family members!
Remember that not everyone knows how to act with, or what to say (or not to say) to, someone in alcohol use disorder recovery, so you may consider talking to family members and friends ahead of time. Help them understand the nature of alcohol addiction and that certain topics and behaviors could trigger a relapse. For example, someone may assume that “one little drink” will not jeopardize your loved one’s sobriety, when really it could act as a trigger for more drinking. At the gathering, be prepared to direct your guests away from this type of potentially harmful conversation and behavior.
4. Encourage a strong support system!
If at any point your loved one feels stressed or down, be there to listen and let them know their feelings are normal and understandable. Encourage your loved one to lean on other members of their support system, such as a sponsor, mentor, or friend from their treatment program. You may suggest that they attend extra alcohol use disorder support meetings over the holidays, and maybe even offer to accompany them to a meeting. Extra support during times of vulnerability can make all the difference.
5. Remember what the holidays are all about!
At the end of the day, the holidays are about gathering and sharing good times with the family and friends we love. The focus should be on the importance of family, opportunities for giving, especially with the ones we love, and creating fond memories. What better way than to support and encourage a loved one’s recovery?
If you or someone you care about is living with alcohol use disorder and could use some extra support in their recovery, contact us today. Our compassionate team is here to help you find the proper alcohol use disorder treatment and recovery services like sober companions and transport to support lasting wellbeing.