Holiday Recovery… Can It Wait?

From Thanksgiving through the New Year, prioritizing yourself can be a tall order. This is true for everyone, and especially for people who are dealing with an addiction. Whether you are dealing with your own addiction to substances, alcohol, or sex, or you’re in a relationship with someone who is, the holidays can be a trying time. Attempting to hold it together for family members, keeping the holidays fun for the children, and managing your emotions can take their toll. The juggling act of trying to make all of these things manageable can make it tempting to put the need for addiction treatment on hold. However, there is risk in doing this.

Should you hit when the iron is hot?

When people are dealing with any addiction, there is almost always ambivalence. There can be a feeling that help is needed. This can quickly switch from “it can wait” to “I’ve got things under control.” This is why it is important to enter into a therapeutic setting no matter what time of year it is. If you wait until the holidays are over, there might seem to be a temporary reprieve. However, it is likely that this is only temporary, and before long, the behaviors can come back with a vengeance.

There is also an underbelly of information that needs to be understood to help find healthy balance in your life. Many times, addicts will trade off addictive behavior for other behavior that seems healthier, yet they continue to struggle with connection, being present, and being truthful. Relationships can’t grow this way. In other words, the person can present as healthy, when there are unhealthy patterns keeping them on the verge of another relapse.

Everyone wants things to feel “normal”.

We rely on a sense of stability to help ourselves stay calm, even when things are unstable. This can mean that boundaries can be overlooked, and even forgotten, for the sake of others. Moving forward, without being able to see the outcome can be terrifying. However, most of us dream of connection that isn’t blocked by shame, fear, hurt, and chaos. The only thing that normalcy provides in an addiction is some certainty, even if the only thing to be certain about is that things can present as happy. The truth is that sometimes the holidays aren’t a happy time. Real people are dealing with real issues.

Whether you feel as though you can’t tolerate your partner’s drinking anymore, or a betrayal has been uncovered, these are real life issues. Unfortunately, the discovery or recognition isn’t something that will wait until after the holiday season. In those circumstances, finding a therapist can be helpful.

How much should you tell others in your family?

Remember that in your life, you are the most important person. Even your children will struggle if you don’t remember that. Pulling yourself down step-by-step below your family harms everyone involved. To can tell the family as much or as little as you would like to tell. If you don’t think it’s time to say something, you can tell them that things are private for right now. Be cautious about avoiding taking steps into recovery to also avoid being asked questions.

Nobody is perfect.

No one is born knowing how to handle an issue with recovery. People also aren’t usually educated on how to handle such difficult situations during the holidays. There is not one right pathway into recovery. If you’re asking yourself questions about whether or not you need help, you probably could benefit from it. However, if you decide to wait until the holidays are over, then that is what you decided was right for you at that moment. Although it could be more ideal to enter into treatment ASAP, there are times where this just doesn’t happen. In those situations, there is no shame in seeking out help at that point where you are ready. Though, there is one simple rule that can be applied to this stressful time of year: “The sooner you are ready, the better.”

Have a safe holiday.

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