How to Support your Loved One’s Recovery at Holiday Parties

Holiday SeasonThe holidays are a stressful time for everyone, but maybe especially hard for someone in recovery from a substance use disorder. With triggers typically present at holiday parties – normalized over-indulgence, staying out late, and the other various and bold rituals of celebration – it can be a challenge for those fresh in recovery and even those in long-term recovery, to maintain their sobriety. If your loved one in recovery takes on the challenge to attend a holiday party this season, please consider the following:

Worry about your own cup. Do not pressure others to drink with you. If you notice that someone does not have a drink in-hand or has something clearly non-alcoholic, let them be. The questions “What are you drinking?” and “Where’s your drink?” etc. are anxiety points for people in recovery, so much that they may disguise their non-alcoholic beverage in a tumbler or wine glass to avoid those encounters.

Do not question someone arriving late and leaving early. Not giving in to temptation requires a certain motivation that can be emotionally taxing. Respect your loved one’s limits and do not “guilt-trip” for them coming late and leaving early. It is also helpful to welcome their sponsor or sober guest for support.

Have non-alcoholic options ready. If you are hosting a holiday party, accommodate those that wish to not consume alcohol by having soft drinks, teas, lemonades, etc. on hand. It is also special to prepare non-alcoholic specialty drinks, or “mocktails”, so all can enjoy a drink that is festive.  It is also a good rule of thumb to not set the dining table with wine glasses. Offer the wine separately so it does not appear as an obligation to guests.

Try not to be offended if your loved one chooses to skip the holiday party overall. As a family member or friend, you may think that adverse pressures only come from your notion of bad influences; however, they can originate from something as simple as a holiday social. Have patience this holiday season and stay thoughtful of those in recovery.

If you or your loved one needs help during the holidays, or any time of year, Gateway’s treatment programs are always here to help.

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