For many, Thanksgiving is a time for family, delicious turkey dinners and sweet pumpkin desserts. But for others like your loved one who is working to maintain their sobriety, Thanksgiving is a time for increased anxiety and stress. If your spouse, child, parent or sibling is in recovery from addiction, the holiday season may have them running for a glass of wine or a dose of opioids.
This year, though, social distancing may actually be able to help your loved one enjoy the holidays for the first time since they completed addiction treatment!
Why Social Distancing Can Benefit Your Loved One’s Recovery
During addiction treatment, your loved one learned that if relapse occurs, it’s just another part of the recovery journey. While the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that relapse rates range from 40 to 60 percent, these rates tend to spike around the holidays.
Whether this is your loved one’s first holiday in recovery or their tenth, they may dread the crowds of people they have to socialize with and the readily available alcohol they have to avoid. They may be haunted by their shame during the holidays or be reminded of grief or loss that may have originally triggered their substance abuse.
Fortunately, this year can be different. As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the country, it’s necessary to still social distance and limit large group events. This can actually benefit your loved one and help them enjoy Thanksgiving for the following reasons:
• Less social anxiety. Socializing with family members and friends over turkey and stuffing can be agonizing for your loved one if they struggle with anxiety. A small, low-key Thanksgiving this year can help your loved one relax and enjoy the holiday festivities.
• More privacy. The holidays may remind your loved one of previous trauma, a loss of a family member or friend, or guilt about the trouble their addiction caused. Privately celebrating Thanksgiving can give your loved one the space they need to process their feelings and join the merriment when they’re ready.
• No pressure to put on a façade. If your loved one isn’t comfortable with others knowing about their struggles with addiction and mental health, they may feel pressured to act differently in public. Avoiding large holiday parties can help your loved one feel much more comfortable in their own skin.
• Decreased access to alcohol. Holiday parties usually include plenty of alcohol for guests to enjoy. Your loved one may join them if they find drinking too tempting to ignore. Having a private Thanksgiving dinner or keeping the party small can make it easier to skip the alcohol and keep your loved one’s cravings at bay.
Thanksgiving Festivities to Enjoy with Your Loved One in Recovery
Just because large Thanksgiving feasts are off the to-do list this holiday season, you can still celebrate the day with your loved one. If there isn’t anything specific they want to do, suggest any or all of these activities:
• Enjoy an intimate Thanksgiving meal. Even without extended family and friends, you and your loved one can still have a lovely Thanksgiving lunch or dinner with each other. Turn this into a full day experience by cooking the turkey and side dishes together.
• Attend a virtual support meeting together. The holiday season is the perfect time to be thankful for your loved one’s recovery and the opportunity the two of you have to rebuild your relationship. Take an hour or two out of the day to attend a virtual support meeting with your loved one. This will give you both an opportunity to express what you’re thankful for and converse with families who understand exactly what your own family is going through.
• Do virtual chats with family and friends. Just because you and your loved one are social distancing from others doesn’t mean you can’t still communicate with family and friends on Thanksgiving. Set aside some time for your loved one to do video chats with people in their support system. These virtual calls may be easier for your loved one to handle and will give them a chance to socialize in a way that’s comfortable for them.
• Play football. If the weather permits, get your loved one outside for some much-needed physical activity. If it’s just the two of you, toss a football around your backyard. If your loved one is comfortable with a close-knit group of people joining in, play a pick-up game of football that will help take their mind off their recovery.
• Host a virtual sober party. Your loved one’s support system is extremely important, especially during the holidays. While you may not be able to see extended family and friends in person, invite a few members of your loved one’s support system to join a virtual Thanksgiving event. Keep the festivities alcohol-free, so your loved one isn’t reminded of their substance abuse cravings.
Your Loved One Can Overcome Addiction at The Raleigh House
The Raleigh House team is thankful for individuals like you who look out for their loved one and want to help them find long-lasting recovery. If your spouse, child, parent or sibling has relapsed or seems to be struggling with their mental health around the holidays, we can help.
Through evidence-based treatments and experiential therapies, we can help your loved one face their addiction and mental health struggles head-on and develop healthy ways to cope with their triggers.
If your loved one needs addiction or mental health treatment, they’ll be in good hands at The Raleigh House. Contact our admissions team today to learn how to get them started.