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Blog Post | December 7, 2023

A Guide to Supporting Loved Ones in Recovery During the Holidays

The holiday season is a time of joy, connection, and celebration. However, for those in recovery or dealing with substance use disorder or are interested in exploring a sober lifestyle, it can also be a period of heightened challenges and triggers. As friends and family, our support becomes even more crucial during this time. Here’s a guide on how to be a beacon of encouragement for your loved ones:

Open Communication

Initiate open and honest conversations. Ask them how they’re feeling about the holidays and if there are specific concerns or triggers they want to discuss. Create a safe space for them to express their emotions without judgment.

Plan Sober-Friendly Activities

Suggest and plan activities that don’t revolve around alcohol or substances. Whether it’s a movie night, game day, or a festive crafting session, focus on creating positive, substance-free experiences.

Be Mindful of Triggers

Understand potential triggers and be mindful of environments that might be challenging for your loved one. If attending certain events might be stressful, consider alternative plans that prioritize their well-being.

Offer Supportive Alternatives

If your loved one is attending gatherings where substances might be present, offer to be their support system. Having someone they trust by their side can make a significant difference.

Respect Their Choices

Respect the choices they make regarding their recovery. If they decide to leave an event early or skip a particular gathering, support their decision without judgment. And respect the decisions of those who choose not to have a drink in hand—whether it’s a matter of sobriety, personal preference, or curiosity. Avoid the well-meaning yet intrusive questions about their beverage choices, and instead, focus on enjoying the festive moments together. Everyone’s journey is unique, so let’s create a supportive and judgment-free atmosphere where all choices are celebrated.

Encourage Self-Care

Remind your loved one to prioritize self-care. Encourage activities that promote relaxation and well-being, such as meditation, exercise, or simply taking some quiet time to recharge.

Provide Encouragement

Offer words of encouragement and remind them of the progress they’ve made. Your support and belief in their ability to navigate the holidays in recovery can be a powerful motivator. Show your support by taking the SAFE Project No Shame Pledge.

Celebrate Milestones

Acknowledge and celebrate their milestones, no matter how small. Recognizing their achievements reinforces the positive aspects of their recovery journey.

Offer a Listening Ear

Sometimes, the best support is simply being there to listen. Let your loved one know that you’re available to talk if they need someone to confide in.

Be Informed About Naloxone

If your loved one is in recovery from opioid use disorder, familiarize yourself with naloxone. Having it on hand can be a life-saving measure in case of an opioid overdose. Learn how to use it and ensure it’s accessible during holiday gatherings.

Remember, your understanding and support can make a significant impact on your loved one’s holiday experience. By being proactive, empathetic, and informed, you contribute to creating a positive and inclusive environment for everyone during this festive season.

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