It is officially December. And you know what that means? It is the start of my giving back series. Each day this month I will post either a way you can give back or profile organizations that give back. So check back every day to check out ways you can give back. Today I have a post about how you can help someone who is in recovery.
Maintaining a life in sobriety when in recovery from drug addiction isn’t easy, especially during the holiday season. It isn’t only hard on the person in recovery, but it can be hard on the rest of the family as well, as you may be unsure of how to provide help and support to somebody in recovery.
Give them space
The first time I spent the holidays with my family after getting sober, I was really overwhelmed. I hadn’t seen these people while I was sober in years and everyone had a million questions about my life. I understood that it was coming from a place of love, but there were moments that I simply needed to step outside and be alone so I could breathe and recollect my thoughts. I was trying to show my family how much I had changed, but being as overwhelmed as I was, I knew that if I didn’t take time for myself I would become visibly frustrated and annoyed with my family.
Try to be as understanding as possible towards the fact that your loved one may need some time alone. Being in recovery may be a completely new experience for them, so a lot of external stimuli may make them feel immense anxiety. If this person tells you they are going to step outside or go into another room, let them take as much time as they need.
Offer a listening ear, not a moving mouth
At my first sober Christmas, I was working a part-time, minimum wage job that had no room for personal or occupational growth. I was pressured by my family to find a new job, go back to college, save up money, and move out of my halfway house. I wasn’t ready for any of this. I was exactly where I needed to be at that time. When I tried to explain this to them, I felt judged. They continued to offer me advice on how to do all the things they wanted me to do. Again, I knew that this came from a place of love, but it simply made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. I felt defeated.
If your loved one is sober and is emotionally and physically present for the holidays, that is a blessing in itself. This isn’t the time to pressure them to do bigger and better things, simply let them be. Let them express how happy they are and how great it feels to be sober. Show them that you are truly proud of them.
Give back to the community
Instead of putting the focus on your loved one in recovery, go out and volunteer at a soup kitchen for the less fortunate. When I go home for the holidays, my family likes to sit around the house, talk, eat, and play games. Sometimes, these activities involve staying in the house around the same people for many hours on end. It is way more beneficial to everyone involved if we go volunteer as a family. Not only does it keep the focus off of the person in recovery, who are already feeling a lot of pressure, but it is a great way to be of service to the people who aren’t as blessed as you may be.
There are support groups, such as Al-anon, that are there to support families of drug addicts and alcoholics. In these support groups, you can learn more about your loved one and how to appropriately handle situations involving them. These are free meetings that are open to people of all ages. Al-anon is a great way for families to receive the support and advice they need to help better understand the mind of a person who struggles with substance abuse.
If your loved one does relapse, offer to help them get into treatment. Go to them with a forgiving attitude, as it is not easy to be home for the holidays. If your loved one truly wants to get help, they will appreciate your kindness in offering support.
Cassidy Webb is an avid writer from South Florida. She works for a digital marketing company that advocates spreading awareness on the disease of addiction. Her passion in life is to help others by sharing her experience, strength, and hope