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Helping an addict navigate the holidays


The holidays are often a joyous time, but for an addict, they can be stressful.

Situations abound where there is alcohol, stressors come more into focus and money is often a concern around this time of year. And what family members and friends often fail to realize is that they can do a lot to help an addict--provided they are willing to cultivate some awareness.

Offer to join an addict at a meeting

For an alcoholic, drug or food addict, holiday parties can be tough to navigate. Offer to support your loved one by attending a meeting with him or her either before or after a holiday event. It can help an addict feel less alone during a time when many people are going overboard on things they may be trying to avoid, like alcohol.

Have healthy options

Make sure to include non-alcoholic drink options at your parties and gatherings. Make them festive and fun, so the addict doesn't feel left out. For recovering food addicts, prepare some healthy options that won't trigger cravings.

Scale back on gifts

If your loved one is struggling financially, make it clear that gifts don't need to be exchanged this year. The stress of financial pressure--especially on shopping addicts--can lead to relapse. Let this person know that their company is gift enough for you.

Have a code word

In many social situations around this time of year, an addict may need to leave in order to cope with feelings, call a sponsor, or go to a meeting. Deciding on a code word can help an addict alert you if he or she needs to leave without explanation.

Change traditions

If you have an alcoholic in the family, maybe it's not the best idea to serve mimosas at your Christmas breakfast. While traditions are fun, they can be adapted in ways that support your addict loved one. Don't be afraid to change the rules or develop new traditions.