Substance Use Disorder and the holidays - how are you this season?



The holidays can be a tough time for families when there are loved ones struggling with addiction. This is a safe space for you to share your struggles, fears, triggers, and experience with others who understand. You are not alone.

What’s coming up for you as we approach the holiday season?
What are you thankful for?


Below are past threads about holidays and addiction that you might find helpful:


Thanks for checking in with the community this holiday season, @Jacqui. You’re right, they’re tough! Looking back and many of my holidays have been impacted by addiction - skipping holiday gatherings because my husband was in rehab, spending New Years apart while he was in rehab, nodding off or nowhere to be found at Thanksgiving gatherings, and most recently, last holiday season my husband had a slip up which I found out about days before Christmas. So it’s a triggering time for sure.

Sometimes I look back at holiday photos and I remember what phase of recovery he was in during that time, and the loneliness and hopelessness I was feeling. But even then, feeling totally stuck and not in the holiday spirit, I was still taking photos because a part of me knew there was still some light to be found in those days. We still had moments together as a family, and many years we had holidays seasons completely clean and sober.

So to my Village Community, wherever you are and wherever your loved one is in addiction/recovery, please know that there’s always light to be found. This season, I’m thankful that I took photos even when I was feeling sad. I’m thankful for crisp fall air, getting out of work early, Black Friday sales, hot cocoa season, mashed potatoes and stuffing. I’m thankful that after three years of moving to a new city, my husband is finally finding people to hang out with. I’m thankful for progress, not perfection, the ability to find hope even in darkness, and sharing that hope with others.

Thinking of some of our Family Support Study Peer Group participants and tagging them here - would love to hear from you this week! @va.ra @zealand6868 @sb0822 @seapa @jen28 @sammiesame @Deanna1 @JoMama @Alair @ede @Sheri @beckycornell47 @jewelrydiva70 @Blissly @Fizzy


Dear @momentsandlight, your note was so sad, yet uplifting. You have found a way to be grateful for something everyday. I’m currently reading “One Day At A Time in Al-Anon” and finding a repetitive message to find things to be grateful for all day. I’m working on doing that too. Your examples show me that they don’t have to be big things, but the little things, that I take for granted, are ones that I need to become mindful of and say it out loud or in my prayers. Thank you again for being such a great mentor. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving this year with all your family. God Bless.


Sorry to be MIA, life has been so busy. My son just moved to a new apartment in November, my other son moved to Pennsylvania :weary:, I joined a networking group and decided to take on a leadership role, and the rest of my time is consumed by either work or school. This holiday was a little sad as one of my son’s was not present physically, but on the bright side my other son was not using. We did have a call with my youngest and everyone got to chat with him for a while to catch up on life. I was very Thankful that everyone was happy and healthy.



I am grateful for incremental growth. In the same way that people “become” parents, not exactly on day-one… being a parent to a person with a substance use disorder has taught me incrementally better forms of communication and interaction. I was a rank beginner And I am learning more every day.


I can completely relate to reading the level of impact addiction has had on our loved ones based on the photos from year to year. I try to prepare myself in advance - will they be clean? Show up very late? Start an argument with family members? And for me, where will I hide my purse/valuables before they come? It helps to prepare but is incredibly sad that we have to.

Our thanksgiving celebration ended in a nasty argument with our daughter & a call from me to the police to get her to leave our home. That’s the ugly side of this that’s hard to ignore. Today I’m filled with all of the shoulda/woulda/coulda’s but in the end, I know sometimes no matter how much I wish it away, addiction brings out the worst in them and in me sometimes. If only I could wave a magic wand and turn back the hands of time!

Thinking of all of you as you navigate through the holidays also! xo


Oh @Deanna1, Rats! I’m sorry there was such turmoil at your place. Those caustic years with doubts and trepidation seem largely behind us now, but it is never over- we’re all only one or two bad decisions away from some of those hi jinks. I know what you mean about photos. For me, I see a few photos where I was happy, and I see that I was COMPLETELY being deceived at that time. It makes me feel profoundly sad and at the same time I can acknowledge how much progress we’ve all made in the past few years. It is nice not to be afraid of the phone ringing. For a long time that was so distressing. Things change and hopefully improve over time. Much love to you during the holidays- it’s great to hear your voice in your writing. cPeace./


@beckycornell47- thanks for your sweet message and I’m so glad you’re reading the Al-Anon daily reader! My favorite is reader is “Courage to Change.” So many good daily reminders to keep me going. Sometimes that’s all it takes to change my perspective and improve my mood, my day, my everyday life. Keep up with the gratitude practice - it truly makes a difference. How was your holiday?

@Thinkstet - yes, this is huge! Learning how to communicate better just makes ALL relationships better - with our loved ones, family, friends, coworkers, and SELF. :raising_hand_woman:

@Deanna1 - I’m so sorry to hear your Thanksgiving ended that way. You’re right, it’s the ugly side we can’t ignore. Were there any good parts that you can bring to the forefront, too? What if we make the positives hard to ignore? Like @beckycornell47 said - “they don’t have to be big things, but the little things…” (p.s. love seeing you back in this space!)


It was affirming to read each of your notes regarding struggling during the holidays. It took reading all of this to realize it’s not the lack of “Christmas Spirit” that has darkened what used to be my favorite time of the year- from Thanksgiving through New Years. When I was a child, my parents and grandparents made Christmas seem magical. Our school and Church added to the joy. When I became a parent, I loved trying to recreate that magic for my children. And then for my grandchildren.
Somehow, I learned very early to overlook the over use of alcohol, and eventually the use of drugs. Addiction has always lurked behind the scenes.
My son has been sober for ten months. But the worst days of the addiction were the four months leading up to the day he entered rehab. As the anniversary of events tick by, my terrible memories of last year cause anxiety and sadness. When my son shares his unclear memories and asks for clarification, I realize he is but one bad moment’s choice from regressing. Each of these “anniversaries “ could be triggers.
Then there is the elephant in the room. My husband’s drinking and our helplessness in convincing him to choose sobriety has been the topic of several family meetings. The only bittersweet blessing of that, is that my son has told me several times that watching his dad act the way he does actually makes him more determined to stay sober.
So, my friends, I share your struggle and can relate. Holding on to the nuggets of precious moments give me hope. My adult kids speaking up beforehand of the musts for dishes served on Thanksgiving. My granddaughter asking to play a game that was engaging and opened the opportunity for a lot of interesting conversations. I realize that our group of imperfect people make up a family of people who really do love one another a lot.
And while some of you described drama, which I can also relate to, this year Thanksgiving was uneventful for us.
Here’s hoping that each of you find your moments of joy as we lead up to the next holiday celebration.


In my family, the elephant in the room was so common he had a name - “it runs in the family”- he’s a familiar elephant anyway- You know, my son getting sober has helped a lot of other people in his life get sober. It’s like when Gabor Mate talks about how our highly sensitive people are the canaries in the coalmine. Who knows? Your son’s sobriety is a wonderful gift, and hard fought by all. Who knows? He may be leading your whole family into a new way of being together and healthy. Wow, it’s kind of awesome to think of our loved ones like that. I must remember to share that with my son and strive for conversations with him that uplift.

I was so happy to hear you had an uneventful Thanksgiving. me, too.



Congratulations to your son.
Nobody’s family is perfect. It seemed like a wonderful childhood but when I look back now…. WOW …. Dysfunctional big time. I say life is what you make of it and we never know what tomorrow will bring. Work at making the best with what you got, sometimes we don’t need perfection to feel like things are wonderful. Wishing you more wonderful uneventful holidays! Stay strong



Hi @Alair -

I so love hearing these updates about your son!

Those 10 months of sobriety have made him stronger, and he’s in a much better place to be able to get right back up should something happen. Regression doesn’t have to mean he starts going backward. Something to keep in mind that will hopefully bring you a little peace. Thinking of that resilience has helped me hold on to hope when triggered by behaviors or anniversaries. Knowing how much we’ve gone through and survived gives me hope that we can keep going even if things do get tough again - which they will in some way or another, because life is tough, there’s no escaping that.

Thanks for sharing your gratitude list and small moments of joy. Those moments are everything. Keep them close. :sparkles: