While you may have waited expectantly for your son or daughter to return home for the holidays, you could be wary of relationship tension or emotional triggers as you plan a warm welcome home. Keep in mind that winter break can be stressful for those in treatment for substance misuse, particularly since it is characterized by parties, excess, and social pressures.
The following tips can help you provide support for your loved one who is trying to stay sober during the holidays.
Supporting a Loved One in Recovery during the Holidays
Understanding How to Provide the Appropriate Response & Support
Individuals in recovery differ in their response to the winter season. The holidays may be a restorative time to connect with family and practice sobriety techniques in a supportive, loving environment. On the other hand, returning home, seeing old friends, and participating in holiday traditions may lead to anxiety or trigger an urge to use. Parents can’t be prepared for every situation, but it helps to be mindful of the following red flags—and develop a game plan for appropriately responding to them before they arise.
Disconnectedness or Unwillingness to Participate in Traditions
Returning home can be emotional. You may find your son or daughter avoiding contact with loved ones as they deal with these feelings, or retreating from the sometimes overwhelming holiday gatherings of extended family and relatives.There’s a fine line between unhealthy isolation and hitting the “refresh” button, and it’s important to respect your child’s need for space as they rediscover themselves in light of their sobriety.
Rather than forcing holiday socialization or traditions that may remind a loved one of old habits, try swapping the commotion of parties for mellow movie nights and small get-togethers. Chances are, close family time and intimate conversations are what your son or daughter could use most while they’re home for the holidays.
Feelings of Anger or Resentment
When an individual is in treatment, they have the ongoing support of therapists and a sober community. But when it’s time to leave their routine and return home, they may feel a sting upon noticing that family life has continued without them. In some cases, being home might dredge up feelings of discord, unresolved tension, or remind your son or daughter of a past they’d prefer to forget. If you notice irritability in your recovering child, try to diffuse the situation before it escalates.
Try talking it out, breaking the tension with a joke, calling a sponsor for support, attending a yoga class together, or suggesting a cathartic walk. Sometimes talking about it isn’t the point, and just spending time near each other will feel good. Build this list of de-escalation ideas before your child arrives home, so you are prepared to help your child when he or she needs it.
Readopting Discarded Patterns
It’s tempting for your child to catch up with old friends or return to old haunts during the holidays. Unfortunately, this old way of life could negatively impact recovery efforts. While every person is unique and will handle this situation differently, encourage your child to maintain the routine they’ve developed in their college recovery program. Simplify daily schedules and hold your son or daughter accountable for daily meditation, exercise, and/or nutritional goals to help them feel their best. Encourage them to get quality sleep and meet with support groups if needed while they are home.
Hope for a Sober Holiday with Life of Purpose Treatment
While you may be most concerned about the needs of your child returning home, keep a watchful eye on other family members, too. With so much focus on the person in recovery, siblings may feel a tension brought on by a change in home environment. Normalize their concerns and be ready to support them through any emotions when their brother or sister returns home.
As the first primary treatment center based on a college campus, Life of Purpose aims to help individuals achieve their goals while providing tools for growth and personal development. If you know a young adult in need of recovery, we specialize in inpatient, outpatient, and sober living care. We also provide family assistance as your son or daughter transitions home.
Learn more at Life of Purpose now, call an admissions counselor at 888-PURPOSE (787-7863).