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The holiday season is a wonderful time to celebrate with the ones you love. But it can also be a stressful time if you have a family member or friend that is an addict or alcoholic, trying to stay sober. Navigating this season can be difficult, but we have some helpful tips for supporting your loved one and promoting their recovery.

If your loved one is in recovery…


  • Know that their program of recovery has to come first. This means that they may have to leave to go to meetings, or may be on their phone with a sponsor or others in recovery. While these actions shouldn’t entirely keep them away from family events, they are still important in keeping them on course to stay sober. Sometimes getting to a meeting or reaching out to their recovery network is the “make or break” point between them and a relapse.
  • Don’t change your own plans or routines. If members of your family or friends drink normally, it is OK to provide alcohol as you normally would. One important aspect of recovery is understanding that the world will not cater to you- trying to shield your loved one from all temptation may actually be doing more harm than good, as it creates a false sense of security. The person in recovery needs to learn to lean on their program and on their own tools to stay sober, regardless of the environment they are in.
  • Don’t blame yourself if a relapse happens. The holidays, for many, can be an emotionally charged time, and relapse is unfortunately common around the holidays. Ultimately, your loved one is responsible for their own recovery, and any actions you take (or do not take) cannot make or break their sobriety. All you can do is let them know you love and support them- the actions they take are up to them.

If your loved one is still in active addiction or alcoholism…


  • Don’t feel guilty for setting boundaries. Of course you want your loved one to be around during the holidays, but if they cannot maintain sobriety or certain agreed-upon boundaries, you have every right to not want them around the rest of your family or in your home. Addiction is an ugly disease, but you have every right to protect yourself and your home, and the holidays are no exception to this.
  • Be willing to utilize local resources if they ask for help. Ideally, inpatient treatment would ensure they get the help they need, but not everyone can financially swing that. There are many shelters and nonprofits that are willing to provide a warm place to sleep and help for struggling addicts and alcoholics, and though you may not want them in your home, do your research and have some options available should they reach out.

Overall, the key to helping your loved one get through the holiday season is to be understanding and loving, without allowing them to push boundaries and take advantage. Be compassionate and understanding of their recovery, and support their program however you can, but also be willing to be firm if necessary. A great resource for this, even if you don’t attend regularly, is Al-Anon meetings. There you will be able to talk to others who have experience loving someone in recovery or addiction, and they can give you helpful information on how best to support your loved one and make the best of the holiday season. When you love someone, you want to help them as much as you can, but talking to others and learning to recognize what is helpful and what is actually harming your loved one is an essential step in keeping your own sanity and safety secured.

Help is Available

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, the professional staff at Serenity Acres is ready to help. Call today for your free confidential assessment, to see if inpatient treatment may be the answer you are looking for: 1-800-203-2024.