The holiday season and addiction - how are you preparing for it?



Winter and ‘the holiday’ season can be a tough time when our families are affected by addiction. How do you handle this? How have things changed as your family or friends have been affected by addiction?

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

Throwing a few more tips for how to handle this holiday season!

  • Keep your expectations realistic
  • Plan activities other than sitting around and gabbing
  • Limit the amount of time you spend with people that don’t bring you up, and spend more time with people you enjoy and make you happy
  • if you’re traveling, think about asking the hotel to take out the mini bar, or ways to manage airport bar situations
  • Use this time to share gratitude and give back
  • Say “no” to things if it isn’t the right time

Try and enjoy whatever circumstance you find yourself in, and always feel free to reach out here for support or to supportive friends/family if you’re having a rough time. People are here to help!


So Holidays… to “us” they are important because they remove us from the Ugly moments. I do not force or require my loved ones to attend family holiday events, as its way to stressful for everyone. We do our own stuff, we are a safe place, and anyone outside of the house knows that as well. As that years go on, more and more people are understanding , so the whole holiday thing is getting easier .
I have learned over the years, just roll with the moment , don’t stress about things you cant change or control Instead focus on right here right now.



I’m actually not really sure what or how to prepare yet!

Last holiday season I spent with my husband’s family so my dad’s recovery was sort of our out of sight / out of mind - but according to my sister, things were actually great! Dad seemed to really enjoy the time to be together, in connection, with her and his brother’s family.

He’s been having a harder time lately, and I’m wondering if, by taking a break from his generally lonely day-to-day, the holidays might be a joyful time for him!?

Maybe what I need to prepare for is January, when the back-to-back-to-back holiday festivities have ended and we go back to routine. I’ll need to make a plan to keep up the communication & connection so it’s not such a stark change.


Great words of wisdom, @Kris_Perry_Long.


I’ve found it’s always a good idea to communicate with our loved ones about the holidays and what potential triggers come up this time of year: isolation, weather changes, financial worries fueled by buying gifts, family gatherings with lots of questions, and how normalized it is to be drinking at holiday festivities. Because we go through the holiday season every year it may be strange to think that we may need to plan beyond turkey, candles, and holiday lights! But it can make all the difference. If possible, I encourage talking with your loved ones about the holidays and potential triggers, that way you can help them navigate the triggers instead of fall into them!


This is such a hard one. My loved one, my stepson, is currently in sober living. We had an agreement that we would pay half of his rent next month, but that he needed to get a job. He appears not to have done that. So we’re in a position of holding our boundary, which will leave him without a place to live. He’s not allowed to move home until he has completed 6 months in sober living. I find myself worried every day about what this means for the holidays. Will he be homeless again? Hungry again? With no clean clothes, having not bathed in days? Do we allow him to come home for the holidays? Do we go pick him up from wherever he’ll be staying and bring him home just for Thanksgiving and Christmas but then send him back out in the cold? I just don’t know how to handle it. I’m trying to just live for today, but when he was on the streets before was when my obsessing was at its worst. I don’t want to go back there.


Thanks for sharing @catawumpus, this is a hard one. A few questions I have to help me understand the situation better. Is he currently living in a sober living? If so, is the agreement that he pays half of the rent for the next few months? Also, how much longer until he gets to the 6 month mark? Let me know this can help inform the best path for you and your family!

Oftentimes when we set boundaries we think we need to be so hard on ourselves with them, to the point where we ask ourselves the questions you asked here! I have a few thoughts regarding this, boundaries need to be looked at an sometimes reevaluated as we move forward with our loved ones in recovery. Wondering if you would be willing to help him find a job - I know a lot of jobs for just the holiday season become available this time of year (they need lots of elves :slight_smile:!) and maybe if you direct him towards some opportunities it could help him find a job, and then help pay his part of the rent. This equals living stability and reduces the worry of him being out on the street.

In my experience, supporting a loved on is really the most beneficial when we know where they are and have the ability to work with them. If he isn’t able to pay half the rent, it may be worth thinking of having him home for the holidays and working on a plan with him for once they are over. Since your obsessing was at it’s worst when he was out on the streets, I’d say it’s important to work to try and prevent that from happening, as best you can.


Agreeing with @erica here!

Asked a spinoff question here (When have you needed to enforce a boundary even though the outcome distressed you?) to see if anyone has faced a similar situation!

Sending so much love to you @catawumpus as we enter into the holiday season. :two_hearts:


I was trying to shorten a long story (it seems like all stories of recovery are long ! :slight_smile:). My step son went to rehab and completed a 30 day program. Following the rehab, his counselor suggested he go into sober living in a town approximately 600 miles away. So we agreed to pay all of the first months rent and slowly decrease over time so that he could get adjusted, attend treatment, and just generally get on his feet. We’re in his third month there and he has not gotten a job. His counselors and his RA have been trying to help him, but he just won’t put in applications. He also hasn’t done any step work or gotten a sponsor, which he told us during family therapy.


Always love a long story @catawumpus <3 thanks for sharing


Sending love and a happy thanksgiving @catawumpus - we’re here with you / for you anytime <3
Please let us know how it goes!


sending love this thanksgiving @catawumpus let us know how you are getting on <3


I know my boyfriend mentioned to me the other day about his family friend having a christmas party and that there would be drinking. He said he won’t be ready to drink.

Now since drinking isn’t his addiction of choice per se, I didn’t think it would have an affect. Yesterday I was at a family meeting at my boyfriend’s rehab and this question came up. The counselors there said that while the client may be fine at the party / occasion / whatever it may, there may be an emotional hangover days later that may cause them to use. They may think well if I can get through that, then maybe I don’t have a problem after all (and then use). Just as a person with a peanut allergy would be mindful, people in recovery and those around them should be mindful too. I had not thought of this situation in that way.

I thought this perspective was interesting. People in early recovery are fragile. I think open communication with your loved one is important. If they are uncomfortable, they shouldn’t go to an event in general. Their recovery is more important and being able to open up about their concerns is even more important. Sure it’s no ones job to make them feel “comfortable” , but it’s our job to make them feel supported in their concerns and decisions to recover. I also think having an overall sober occasion would be beneficial, whether that means you say to others no alcohol in the house or just choose to stay sober with them.

Having an alternative solution or activity or even an exit plan if they do decide to go to an event is key. Make sure they know that their concerns are being heard!


I love that you’re able to attend the family meetings @stayhopeful244! It’s so important, and I remember that was a little ‘iffy’ in the beginning.

This is an interesting reframe of how to respect those who are in recovery:

Thanks for sharing!


@stayhopeful244 great perspective that drinking can be a trigger even though it’s not the drug of choice - seeing other people get intoxicated can lead to craving and cause trouble. All types of intoxication are similar in their effects - loss of rational thinking, etc. My views toward alcohol have changed after seeing the devastation that a substance can have in the lives of people I love.


Exactly @Julie_Smith ! I never thought about it either till my boyfriend brought it up. I had a convo with his parents this morning about not having alcohol at thanksgiving and some holiday parties that may be coming up in the upcoming weeks. They agreed that there should be limited if not any contact with those situations.
I think just communicating helps alleviate any issues that may arise!


@stayhopeful244 I love that you’re able to communicate so honestly with his parents! Whatta win!


This holiday season feel easier than others - for thanksgiving my husband and I are taking a wee trip, and for christmas we’ll have our first holiday with my family (which I’ve been begging for, for years!)

But it got me thinking, being with my husband through the depths of his addiction was and has been a really isolating time. I’ve gotten used to isolating myself through being with him too.

I think we’re getting better at being around people now, and it’s something we both crave but it’s something we have to re-learn to do. We opt for the isolated getaway instead of the family (or even friends) option time and time again. Any one else feel similarly?


The holidays can definitely be very triggering for me— I’ve had a lot of Christmasses and Thanksgivings ruined from my parents’ alcohol abuse in the past. Each year, it’s always a feeling of holding on as tight as I can, trying to make sure not the slightest thing goes wrong.

Yesterday on Thanksgiving, I found myself in this position. My family and I were going to the Thanksgiving parade, and on the way, my mom and sister got into a fight. I became the mediator, a role I’ve tended to take up in past family issues. It was a responsibility and role that was super triggering. I expected some holiday stress, but not bright and early on Thanksgiving morning. I struggle with some anxiety and ocd thoughts, and found some of my old thoughts that I had resolved in the past coming back to me. I spent the better part of the day trying to fend off these distressing thoughts while being present in the moment with the family.

Later on during dinner time, my mom offered me some wine, to which I said no. I realized I don’t like to drink in front of my younger siblings, for fear it will remind them of my parent’s previous alcohol problems. If I’m going to feel guilty while drinking, that’s no fun . . . so what’s the point of it anyway? On the bright side, it seems like my mom is developing a better relationship with alcohol, especially since she’s become more stable on her depression/bipolar medication.

Thinking forward to how I can prepare for when Christmas comes around, I’m going to take some extreme self-care tips and make sure I take little breaks from my family. I felt upset yesterday when I realized going back to my mom’s house can be very triggering for me, but I realize this concept of our home is malleable, and that now is the time for me to start creating a different, improved concept of her home and its associated memories in my head. The new, good life I’ve created for myself is important for me, and I’m trying to retain this new image I have of myself even when I go home.