We are officially less than two weeks out from the holiday season! For some of us, this means harmonious family gatherings full of gifts, good food, and a constructive, healthy environment.
But for many of us, the holidays are much more stressful and overwhelming than relaxing and carefree. If you are struggling with addiction, this season may mean many situations that trigger substance use… and very little support.
If you’ve already faced your addiction and taken steps to recovery, find tips on how to maintain your sobriety in social settings.
Be sure to spend your holidays close to your recovery support network, whether or not that includes your family.
We know the holidays tend to drudge up hard feelings and magnify strained relationships, but sticking with the individuals who have supported you on your journey will help you through. The holiday season can be painful, but don’t forget to always put your recovery first!
If you have yet to discuss your addiction with your loved ones, whether it be family or another support system, now is the time to have that conversation. Use the following tips as a guide to establishing a support system during this difficult time.
Plan Ahead Before Discussing Your Addiction With Family
The most important tip we can offer when it comes to discussing your addiction with your loved ones is to create a plan and stick to it. Keep in mind why you are having the conversation in the first place and use this as a guide for what you say.
It is not necessary to tell your entire family at once! If it makes you feel more comfortable, talk to an individual you are the closest to first and ask them to support you as you tell others.
Whatever method you decide, start by setting the stage for discussion. Let them know you have something to talk to them about, and state you are seeking support as you pursue treatment.
It is important that you do not attempt to justify your actions or accuse others of being a catalyst for your addiction. Take responsibility! Remember that you are seeking support and encouragement from your family, and pointing fingers will create negative feelings and anger.
Openly express your feelings about your addiction so your family knows how you are struggling. Tell them the impact that addiction has had on your life. This will help them understand that your substance use is beyond your control and trust that you are serious about seeking help.
If you have a plan for recovery, tell them upfront! This will also show you are committed to change.
Alternatively, if you feel overwhelmed by treatment options, ask them for help, and express your willingness to listen to their suggestions.
Be Open and Honest About Your Addiction
Avoiding the conversation about your addiction does not make it go away! Tell your family the truth so you can get the help you need. Honesty will strengthen your relationship so be prepared to tell them how long you’ve been addicted and how often you are using.
Don’t forget that addiction affects everyone! Even though it may be difficult, acknowledge any pain you may have caused or hurtful behavior you have exhibited due to your substance use.
It’s also important that you allow your family to be honest with you. Be open to hearing stories and receiving feedback about how your addiction has affected them, even when it’s hard to hear.
Being honest means not sugar coating your addiction. If you are still using, tell them. If you need to make specific lifestyle adjustments that could affect them, let them know. Be prepared to answer their questions.
Remember: Even though the conversation may be hard, it is ultimately positive!
Prepare For Their Response
Everyone’s family is different and responses may vary from support and encouragement to sadness and blame. It’s also natural for some family members to be more supportive than others. You may be surprised to find that your family already had suspicions about your addiction, and your willingness to admit you need help will come as a relief to them!
On the other hand, if your family needs some time to process the news, do not feel discouraged.
Remind your family that you are asking for their support in your recovery, not in your addiction. When they fully understand this, they may feel inclined to do their own research and make phone calls, even if you already have a plan in place for treatment. Take this is a sign of their support, thank them for their help and encouragement, and proceed with the plan you feel best suits your needs.
If you are looking for therapy assistance from your family in specific ways (i.e. someone coming to meetings or driving you to appointments), state your requests up front.
If you don’t know how they can help in your recovery, it’s okay to ask them to remain on stand-by. Once you enter treatment you will have a greater understanding of how your loved ones can assist you as you get sober.
Avoid damaging or abusive responses by selectively choosing the people who need to know. Do not feel obligated to tell everyone! It is possible to experience some guilt and resentment from family members who also struggle with addiction.
Remember this has nothing to do with you. If an addicted family member tries to convince you that you don’t have an addiction, maintain your resolve to get clean and sober. Do what you know is right!
Alternatives to Telling Your Loved Ones in Person
If you are especially nervous or worried about the way your family will respond, it’s okay not to have a face-to-face conversation. Instead, write a letter or send an email. This will allow your family some time to process their thoughts and will hopefully lead to a more constructive discussion.
Are you still struggling with the best way to broach the subject of addiction with your family? Seek out help from a helpline counselor who will listen to your unique story and help with you treatment options. Call the experts at Alo House Recovery Centers at (888) 468-5249, and know that you are never alone!