a star-shaped chalkboard with the text happy holidays on a pile of gift boxes placed under the christmas tree and surrounded by natural ornaments such as pine cones

The atmosphere of celebration that comes with the holiday season can be difficult to navigate if you’re in recovery or supporting someone along their recovery journey. It’s important for those entering or maintaining recovery – and their loved ones – to understand how to avoid potential triggers and the support required to enjoy this time of year without jeopardizing recovery. The holiday season can also be a time for difficult conversations, realizations and feelings for those still using substances and the friends and family that care about them.

Tips for supporting a loved one in recovery:

  • Set boundaries – You can only begin to help your loved one if you recognize your limitations and set boundaries. Be clear about what you will not tolerate and make these boundaries clear to your loved one ahead of any time you plan to spend together, at the holidays and year-round. It can feel difficult to say no sometimes, but it’s important to keep your loved one accountable for their actions and protect your own feelings.
  • Do your research – Many people enter recovery around the holidays because they see more clearly how their behaviors impact their ability to partake in gatherings with loved ones. Be prepared with information about local resources in case your loved one expresses the desire to make a change in their life and seek recovery. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous both offer support to family and friends of individuals with substance use disorders. CleanSlate can also provide help.
  • Offer support – Let your loved one know you are ready to support them in recovery. Recovery is most successful when a person has the assurance that others will be supporting them along the way. Recovery is a lifelong journey, so it’s helpful to know there is someone who will be there for them through it all.

Tips for supporting yourself if you are in recovery or thinking of seeking treatment:

  • Ask for help – The greatest gift you can give yourself and your loved ones this holiday season is the gift of recovery. The holidays can be a particularly lonely time for someone who is using, but you don’t have to struggle alone. There are many resources available, you just have to take the first step.
  • Engage with community resources – Having a strong network of support is critical to achieving and maintaining recovery. Community resource groups can also offer ongoing support during difficult times in the recovery journey, including the holidays. Seek out local support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and more. Your local CleanSlate center can help point you to resources in your community.
  • Avoid triggering situations – While many people think of the holidays as a time to gather with family, not every family situation is supportive for a person in recovery. It’s okay to say no if you know the situation will cause unnecessary stress and potentially trigger harmful behaviors. There are plenty of alternatives to a traditional family holiday gathering. Support groups often meet on or near holidays to help members cope with feelings of loss and stress that can come during this time of year. Calling a sponsor or a friend in recovery can also help calm anxieties or other feelings.

It’s important to realize that no matter where in the recovery journey you or your loved one may be, you have support. There is a whole community of people willing and eager to help – during this season of giving and all year long.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance use disorder, seek help. CleanSlate is proud to offer medication-assisted treatment and mental and behavioral health counseling to support long-term recovery. Call 833-505-HOPE or visit our website to chat with one of our specialists today.

Behavioral Health Leadership Team