Talking About Addiction Recovery With Family During the Holiday Season
The holiday season is supposed to be the most joyous time of the year. However, research has shown that it is also the most stressful time, which is oftentimes the result of familial stress. When you add to the mix talking about addiction recovery with family, it can be especially difficult. However, there are many ways that you can make discussing this topic easier on both yourself and your family.
Why Are You Doing Sharing Your Story?
The first thing that you should consider is why you are sharing your addiction recovery experience with your family. Having these reasons in mind will go a long way towards helping you feel more comfortable sharing this part of your life and will also ease your and everybody else's anxiety levels during this time.
In other words, why are you responding with your recovery experiences when you are asked about how you have been lately as opposed to responding in a different manner to that question?
Prepare What to Say
Do your best to plan and rehearse what you are going to say while talking about addiction recovery with family in order to minimize any surprises.
However, it's also important to go into the process with an open mind as, no matter how much mental and emotional preparation you undertake, you will still likely experience unexpected situations. The best way to be ready for something like this is to plan ahead as best as you can and then, in the moment, go with the flow. This latter point is especially important to keep in mind during the oftentimes hectic holiday season.
Note that, in many cases, there is little value to providing details about your addiction or your treatment, but be prepared with that type of information if you are asked for it and are comfortable providing it. In many cases, it can be helpful to share the science behind how an addiction can lead to compulsive behaviors and that consuming alcohol or drugs is no longer simply a choice once an addiction has taken hold.
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Consider Being Open About the Struggles of Staying in Recovery
Even though you may be markedly improved in various ways as compared to where you were when you were experiencing the worst of your addiction, it's important to explain to your loved ones that you are still in recovery. Of course, you are proud of how far you have come, but you also understand that you still have work to do and are very much focused on remaining sober, through the holiday season and beyond.
It can also be helpful to speak about the struggles that you have already experienced up to this point of your recovery process. Not only is it oftentimes helpful for you to talk about things like that, but doing so can also help your loved ones better understand those struggles as you look to overcome them. This can also build honesty and trust between yourself and your loved ones, which is especially important if those things have been harmed due to your experiences with this addiction.
You might be hesitant to go into specifics about your struggles, especially if the situation doesn't feel appropriate to do so, but if you're in an un-rushed, relaxed setting, consider doing so.
Be Ready for a Variety of Reactions
Some of your family members may be surprised when they learn what you are overcoming while others may not be and had long suspected that you had been struggling with something like this. Meanwhile, some may not give off any visible reaction. They may be experiencing a reaction but not showing it or might simply be stunned and need some time to fully process what you just told them.
It's also important to be prepared for various levels of support. Some family members will be especially supportive and will offer to help in any way that they can. Make sure to keep these people in mind in the coming days, months and years. Also consider being proactive and asking for support. It may be difficult to do so, but understand that experiencing a fear of rejection and, in some cases, shame is okay. Remind yourself that you are not less of a person because you are in the process of overcoming an addiction. And be okay if people are not willing to help. Removing that fear of rejection will go a long ways to reducing your anxiety. Simply ask and see what happens.
Of course, you want to be able to handle your addiction on your own – that is always the end goal – but you likely need support to help you get there.
Conversely, if the response to what you're saying is hostile and the comments that you receive back are less than nice, you need to distance yourself from these toxic individuals as best as you can, both immediately and in the long term. No good can result from you interacting with them any more than is absolutely necessary. Be caring and loving when you do so, not resentful, but create space between you nonetheless. Addiction can have a long-term impact on relationships and those people may not be ready to be supportive yet.
We're Here to Help
If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction, contact SpringBoard Recovery for assistance. We will ensure that the treatment that is completed provides the best opportunity for recovery, both in the short term as well as the long term.