If you have a friend or family member struggling with drug or alcohol use, you may find yourself thinking it’s best to wait and address the issue after the holiday festivities. But often times, it can be good idea to encourage your loved one to start thinking about sobriety before the holiday begins.
“Generally speaking, most people do wait until after the holidays to make large life changes, but it never hurts to talk about substance abuse issues with someone who needs help.” says Dr. Michael Frost, Medical Adviser at Sunspire Health. “The important thing is to create a caring, nonjudgmental environment that the person can feel comfortable with when they do finally decide to make changes.”
Here are five reasons why you should start talking to your loved one about their addiction around the holidays:
1. You can help them avoid stress-induced drug or alcohol abuse. Substance use is often triggered by stress in a person’s daily life. Around the holidays, common stressors surrounding money and family relationships are intensified, which can cause a person to use drugs or alcohol more heavily to cope. If your loved one learns how to deal with stress in healthy ways during the holiday season, there’s a chance they will be better prepared to handle stress throughout the year as well.
2. You may help them avoid other triggers to use, too. People, places or situations can be all be triggers that prompt your loved one to have cravings. Around the holidays, family gatherings could happen at those places (like a family home), or involve some of the people who trigger—or even encourage—substance use. Talking with a loved one before the holiday festivities can encourage them to get help and deal with these triggers appropriately.
3. You could help them avoid a dangerous binge. Family and friends may indulge in holiday drinking, which could lead your loved one to justify excessive drinking or drug use. In addition to talking to your addicted loved one, you can also encourage friends and family members to celebrate the holiday in ways that support the loved one’s recovery—no drugs or alcohol involved.
4. You could encourage your loved one to rekindle family relationships. When a loved one’s addiction causes strained relationships with family members, it can make family gatherings tense. What’s more, these strained relationships could further enable a person’s substance abuse. If your loved one gets help before the holiday, it can help them repair those relationships and reconnect with friends and family before these gatherings happen.
5. You can help your loved to gain a fresh start with the new year. By talking to your loved one before the holiday, you can help them get in the right frame of mind to get sober as the new year rolls around. Since so many people set a New Year’s resolution, you can reinforce that your loved one won’t be alone in making changes for the better.
It might take some time to convince your loved one to get help for their addiction, and they might be hesitant to make changes around the holiday. But by starting the conversation early, you may be able to encourage your loved one to take a step back and evaluate their situation before the stress of the holiday season sets in. Just make sure to remain calm and compassionate as you share your concerns.
To learn more about treatment options for your loved one, call one of Sunspire Health’s care advocates at 815-277-4539.