Here’s how you can show your support over the holiday season!
It’s no secret that the holidays can be an especially trying time for those in recovery from substance abuse or eating issues. Dealing with an active addiction or being in early recovery can be trying enough; let alone piling on the added stressors that come with the season – financial pressures, extra tasks (gift wrapping, anyone?), social obligations and parties where people are indulging in substances, and yes – family time!
Furthermore, there are a lot of expectations and emotions that become tied in with the holidays, as we remember perhaps what was, and have hopes for what is – and sometimes those can both look very different from reality!
Statistically, the rate of relapse tends to increase this time of year – makes sense, right?
So, for families concerned about their loved ones spending the holiday season in treatment this year, we assure you that although it comes with its own set of challenges, it’s certainly a safe and positive place for your loved one to be.
As well, the holiday season presents itself as a great time to exercise all of the skills we develop in treatment – like abstaining from alcohol during festive celebrations, and learning to process emotions and expectations.
Although it’s certainly intensified this time of year, your loved one will now have the opportunity to begin the New Year on an extremely positive and memorable note.
So how can you be there for them, from afar? Here are some of our best tips. (If you have any to include, please comment below – we love hearing suggestions from our families and patients who’ve been there!)
Understand They Might Be Experiencing A Flood Of Emotions
Whether or not you’ve ever dealt with addiction issues or not, you likely understand how emotional the season can be. With all its emphasis on family, togetherness, and love, this time of year can be an immense trigger – bringing up feelings of shame, guilt, and inadequacy.
When they were actively using, it’s very possible that substances were used as a way to deal with such emotions. Now, in treatment – that option is no longer available.
The emotions can be high, and they can feel very raw.
As their loved one, simply being mindful of this can be very supportive.
Depending on your relationship with them and your comfort level, it can be helpful to simply ask how they’re feeling, and be there with a listening ear.
Christmas Gift Giving
Every residential treatment program is different with their gift giving policies, but here at Cedars, Christmas gifts (or otherwise) are certainly welcomed! If you are visiting and want to bring them with you, we just ask that a staff member be present when they’re opened, as there are some items and substances which are not permitted on grounds (just ask us for details or for a list, if you’re not sure). If you mail the card or gift, we’ll ensure that someone is on hand to be with your loved one as they unwrap it, too. We’re happy to help make the arrangements so your loved one can open their gifts with joy!
Not sure what to get them? We usually suggest something positive or fun for them to enjoy (like a book that will appeal to them) or something that shows you’re thinking of them, like a warm blanket – especially comforting during those chillier group sessions this time of year. Adult colouring books can be really meditative and great for keeping hands busy, too. Clothing can be tricky, as bodies can change as they heal (especially if your loved one is in for an eating disorder) – but cool socks always fit.
You’ve likely heard this one before, and for good reason – before you can be there for anyone else, you must take care of your own needs first. Make sure you’ve had enough sleep and healthy, nourishing foods, and that you’ve taken care of your own spiritual and emotional selves; as well as caring for your loved one in treatment. Many of our family members for patients in treatment find solace in attending family support groups, too. Feel free to ask us about these!
If you’re reading this, it’s possible that this holiday season may not look the same to you as others in the past may have, but hopefully it can be a beacon of hope for brighter holiday seasons in the years to come! Please know that you’re not alone, and our team here at Cedars is always here to support you; regardless of the season.
We wish you and your loved ones a peaceful holiday season, and send you the best wishes for 2019.
Do you have any tips or questions for us about what it’s like to have a loved one in treatment over the holidays?
Or, if you’ve been in treatment over the holidays, do you have any recommendations? Please leave your comments below!
The team at Cedars at Cobble Hill