The holiday season is fast approaching. This means family gatherings that will give everyone a chance to catch up and reconnect with the recovering family member. It may be tricky to interact with them. For instance, should you put out alcohol? Should the celebration be in a party form? What if they relapse? How do you talk to them about their recent struggles?
This article will serve as a guide on how to deal with a recovering alcoholic during the holidays. The basic principle is to create an environment that will make them feel loved and supported so that they can continue their successful recovery.
Tips For Dealing With Recovering Alcoholics
Talk To The Family
Celebrating with a recovering alcoholic is a major milestone that must be discussed by the family. Their alcoholism may have caused financial problems and emotional rifts. The holidays are better celebrated when these wounds are no longer as fresh and that they are in the process of healing.
It is important to consult the rest of the family simply because everyone gets affected with addiction. Assess if everyone is in the proper mental shape to welcome the patient back into everyone’s lives. One good marker is if everyone is no longer in denial or shame about the incident. Check if everyone is willing to host a non-alcoholic event. Ask yourself and the family, “Are we ready?”
Ask The Family Member Who is in Recovery
It helps to give the patient some heads up before the party. Ask them if they are comfortable enough to rejoin the rest of the family rather than mandating their presence. If you are serving alcohol, check-in with them to see if they can handle it. Naturally, serving alcohol is not recommended if the family member is in the early stages of recovery.
Ask The Family Member If They Wish To Invite Friends
A recovering alcoholic will undoubtedly make new friends as they go through their journey to recovery. They will meet new people in rehab, in Alcoholics Anonymous sessions, in group therapy, and more. These individuals are helpful for their recovery since they keep each other company and encourage one another to be better. They are going through a unique recovery experience that no one else can relate to.
You may want to ask the recovering alcoholic if they wish to bring friends. They should also be warned if there will be alcohol at the party so that they can assess if they can handle it. The additional company will also be great for your recovering loved ones so that they’ll have someone to talk to during idle moments at the party.
Ask For Their Preferred Beverages
You may be tempted to serve mocktails to make them feel included in the holiday spirit, but these festive drinks may be a trigger for some. Mocktails may be a visual reminder of alcohol which can make them crave for the real thing. It could also be a painful ordeal to drink a fake drink when they want the real one.
Ask them their preferred drinks and whip up some safe options that are more appropriate for the holiday season, such as hot spiced cider, hot coffee, tea, hot cocoa, and more. If the patient is in long-term recovery, they could have some non-alcoholic beer or wine.
Provide A Safe Space
The socialization process can be overwhelming and draining for the patient, especially if it is their first social encounter in a long time. Being surrounded by prying family members who drink alcohol could feel like too much. The normal party scene could trigger the patient’s anxiety.
As such, allot a time and space for them to have some down time so that they could recollect themselves. You may invite them for a short walk after dinner or open the guest room for them to go into if they need to rest. If you will invite them to walk, be discreet about it since there is no need to make a show out of giving them the quiet that they need.
Listen To Them
When they talk, be attentive. Be open to their needs. Ask them if they are comfortable about talking about their journey. If they would rather table the topic for later, then respect their wishes. Inform the rest of the family so that everyone will be aware that it should not be discussed.
General Tips For The Family
· Plan the holiday party. Avoid downtime that can result in idleness and awkward conversations. Make the patient participate in the activities so that they will feel included.
· Create a plan in case of a relapse. Inform the members of the family about hotlines as well as the contact information of the patient’s sponsor, mentors, and recovering peers.
· Be mindful of the risk factors. It could be a drink left unattended or conversations that dwell too much on the patient’s past. You should also brief everyone about the warning signs of relapse so that you can intervene accordingly.
· Know that recovery is a long and hard process, and that nothing should reverse it. At the instance of a relapse, the patient must not be shamed. Act calmly to reconnect them with their rehab center so that relapse recovery may commence.
R&R Recovery has an open hotline for cases of relapse and recovery emergencies. We value the patient’s recovery as well as the family’s ability to handle such delicate cases.