It’s not only the addict who needs support at this time of year
Ultimately recovery from addiction is up to the addict, but during the holiday season, it’s even more critical to support and provide a network for your loved one who is recovering.
But it’s also important to take care of yourself. If you have a family member who has struggled with alcoholism or drug abuse or other addictive behaviours, you likely also need support. You will be going through your own recovery process from the experience and all the emotions loving an addict can create.
Time for yourself
Just as the addict does, many people whose loved one suffers from addiction issues, isolate themselves. Or they wear themselves out trying to control the addictive behaviour or cover it up. Often when the addict finally hits bottom and decides to find help, the spouse, partner, parent or other person involved, is equally as ill and exhausted.
At this time of year, when the addicted person may be avoiding holiday events and gatherings, it’s critical to remember that you can be supportive, but you are still entitled to enjoy your own life and to participate in the annual celebrations.
If you’re not comfortable leaving your loved one alone at what can be a challenging time, try to find other ways to provide self-care and to have fun. Invite a friend over for coffee or a meal, go for walks, catch up on the latest Netflix releases or books you’ve meant to read, and so on. All of the fun things you and your loved one probably stopped doing while he or she was immersed in the addiction.
Your own community
It’s really critical to take care of yourself first, or you don’t be able to help anyone else. Establish your own network or community of support where you can talk freely about your own experience and challenges.
If you haven’t already done so, look into support groups like Al-anon or others for people who are in relationships with addicts. There you will find other people who have been through the same experience and understand what you are going through. Their experiences, advice and support can help you in your own recovery.
Most people who are in a relationship with an addict have difficulty setting boundaries. As their loved one’s behaviour spiralled out of control, they usually enable them in one way or another. Providing consequences when boundaries are violated is another way to take care of yourself.
And finally, be kind
Developing kindness and patience for yourself is another method of self-care. Often, we are hardest on ourselves. At this challenging time, it’s important to remember to be patient — with yourself and with the addict. You are both recovering.
Recovery doesn’t happen overnight — it’s a journey, an ongoing process that you both will need to work through. Lasting change is gradual and is made step by step.