Addiction is often referred to as a family disease. It affects not only individuals who are misusing drugs and/or alcohol but also their families. Family dynamics are often significantly compromised and in need of healing.
During the stressful holiday season, uncomfortable feelings or situations can easily arise. Confrontations between family members about substance misuse may be especially prominent—that is why people with addiction often relapse around this time of year.
The recovery community appreciates additional support during this stressful period. Recovery Ways is an important part of that support network. The team at Recovery Ways recently offered a seven-week course of community outreach and support groups via Zoom with specialized expert Recovery Ways facilitators. The sixth meeting, facilitated by clinical psychologist Maryann Rosenthal, focused on family dynamics.
Reasons for holiday stress in the family can be “fatigue, unrealistic expectations, excessive commercialization, financial stress, and—especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic—the inability to be with family and friends,” explained Rosenthal.
Improving relationships within the family is not only for the holidays, of course, and financial stress is likely to continue for many Americans in this challenging time. The year 2020 was “a year of loss and loneliness,” said Rosenthal. “It’s easy to lose hope and COVID has functioned as an amplifier of stress and trauma, creating a constant feeling of urgency.”
A participant on the call shared that this year, Christmas was “totally different” due to the pandemic. While he felt that it was “nice and loving” because everybody tried hard to make it work, he also realized that lingering resentments can easily resurface.
It is recommended that people become mindful of their feelings and make healthy adjustments for the “new normal.” “Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by comparing today with the ‘good old days’ because they won’t come back easily.” Maryann Rosenthal offered five tips for staying healthy and sober in the new year:
- Set realistic goals
- Make time for yourself in 2021
- Set aside differences
- Set boundaries: learn to say ‘no’
- Ask for support
Set achievable goals and work on them, one day at a time. By making goals more attainable, you are less likely to experience painful disappointments. Make time for self-care and reduce stress, one of the primary drivers of substance misuse. Choose your battles. Don’t argue needlessly with loved ones, avoid heated political discussions. If it doesn’t feel right for your recovery, you don’t have to be there. And most importantly, make ample use of your support network. Always remember, the opposite of addiction is connection!
We hope you are staying healthy in the new year and beyond. If you, a family member, or a friend are struggling with addiction and/or mental health, Recovery Ways wants to help. We are dually licensed to treat mental health disorders and addiction. Don’t delay seeking treatment. Our admissions coordinators can recommend a plan of action, suggest an interventionist, or speak with your loved one. For more information, please call us at (888) 988-5217.