After struggling with addiction for any period of time, an accomplishment as life-changing as recovery should be celebrated and supported by loved ones- but this isn’t always the case. While the support of family and friends play an important role in the lives of many, not everyone living in recovery has the support of their loved ones once they’re clean and sober. Lack of support can come in many forms- some family members may continue to use substances throughout your recovery while others could be so angry with you that they’re unwilling to provide any support or forgiveness. Regardless of circumstances, the pain and resentment that builds up during active addiction can drive loved ones away and those emotions don’t automatically disappear once you’ve found recovery. With the holidays fast approaching, lack of family support can feel especially painful for those living in recovery. Although the support of those closest to you can make living in sobriety feel easier, you can thrive without their support. Here are six things you can do to this holiday season when your loved ones don’t support you or your recovery.
Find A Support Group
Support doesn’t just have to come from your family and friends. Find a support group in your area with others that are living in recovery. The people in your group will understand what it’s like to struggle with addiction and recovery. Chances are, there are also people there whose families don’t support their recovery- you’re not alone in your struggles. Others in your group have likely had to rebuild relationships with their loved ones after active addiction. Use their stories as a guide on how to rebuild your own relationships. Ask questions and lean on them for support. Before you know it, you’ll create an entire network of new sober friends from support groups, recovery meetings, or online communities. [middle-callout]
Keep Your Distance
If the family and friends you’re used to spending Christmas with are also struggling with addiction or drink heavily, it’s probably best that you keep your distance from them. If you’re newly sober, it’s especially important that you don’t put yourself into a situation where you feel more of an urge to drink. With all the pressure that already surrounds the holidays, don’t make it worse by introducing drugs or alcohol back into your life. While it may be hard to break a tradition, celebrating Christmas in sobriety for the first time in many years is the perfect time to start a new holiday tradition.
Get Out And Give Back
The best way to get out of your own head is to give back to someone else. There are plenty of families in need this holiday season, especially since it’s starting to get colder outside. Most communities have a local soup kitchen or church that hosts Christmas dinner for the less fortunate in your area- sign up to contribute or distribute food. If you’ve already got Christmas day plans, host a toy or food drive within your recovery group. Getting everyone involved will not only bring you closer to your new sober friends, it will make the whole group feel like they’re accomplishing something positive this holiday season. Now that you’ve found your happiness in recovery, it’s time to help others find theirs.
Apologize With Your Words And Actions
The bottom line is, you hurt your loved ones while in active addiction and you have to apologize for it. Understand that your loved ones might not accept your apology right away, and that’s okay. They may need more time to heal. Regardless, you can’t just verbally apologize to your loved one; you have to show them that you’re really making an effort to stay sober. If they’re willing to listen, share your plans for staying sober with them and keep them updated throughout the process. By apologizing and consistently working to make amends, your loved ones will see that you are trying to change your life.
Offer An Education
Addiction has affected your loved ones lives deeply, and you need to give them an opportunity to voice their recovery concerns to you. Try to avoid getting defensive, and instead, invite a close friend or family member to attend a local AA or NA meeting with you. Sometimes family and friends are hesitant to give their support because they don’t understand the disease of addiction, but information could be the key to opening minds. If your loved one doesn’t take you up on your offer, try not to be to discouraged. Just because your offer was rejected, it doesn’t mean your invitation fell on deaf ears- some loved ones may need more time to open their hearts again.
Understand That It Takes Time
The truth is, addiction doesn’t just hurt the user, but everyone around them. While you might be ready to move on from your time in active addition, your loved ones might not be. Some of them might still feel the pain and hurt of the things you did during active addiction. The best thing you can do for your loved ones if they’re not ready to forgive is to give them the time and space to heal. Make yourself available to them if and when they’re ready to talk. Express your love and wait it out. While this might not be the easiest thing to do, berating those close to you with phone calls and texts could only alienate them further. — With Christmas around the corner, lack of family support can feel particularly painful this time of year. As photos of family joy begin to flood your social media, remember that there are things you can do rebuild your damaged relationships and let go of the people that aren’t beneficial for your life in recovery. This holiday season, let your recovery be a gift to yourself and show those around you that you will thrive with or without their support.