Imagine this: here it is, the beginning of December – you’re driving home from work, hit a patch of ice and lose control of your vehicle. You wreck your vehicle and hit your head pretty hard; it’s likely a concussion – but you’re not sure. You’re dizzy and can’t quite remember what day it is. Your hand was also damaged from the airbag – you can’t even make a fist.
When EMS arrives and tells you that you need to go to the hospital and get your hand and your head looked at – you profoundly refuse.
“It’s only 3 weeks until Christmas. If I have a concussion, I’ll have to take time to rest, which means no Holiday shopping this weekend – and I have all the kids and grandkids to shop for this year. If I broke my hand, I’ll be in a cast for weeks, and might even have to have physical therapy. Plus, think of the expenses – those medical bills can add up really quickly. No, I better wait until after Christmas to go to the doctor and get this looked at. It’s not that bad, really. I’ll just stick it out until after the New Year.”
For most people, this train of thought sounds crazy. But for many families with a loved one in active addiction who desperately need help – a similar thread of conversation will run through their heads.
I know he’s addicted to heroin, but it’s the holidays and he needs to be home with us. I’ll just keep a close eye on him while he’s here and we’ll get him into treatment in a few weeks. He’s been using for over a year, what’s a few more weeks?
A few weeks – even a few days can make a world of difference, and waiting until after Christmas to get help for addiction can be dangerous and deadly.
If you are struggling with addiction –
You decide that you’re ready to get help, but you don’t want to be away at rehab during the holidays. Your parents would be disappointed, your kids would miss you, your spouse wouldn’t be able to handle the holidays alone – whatever the reason, it just seems like maybe you should wait until after Christmas. Subconsciously, you’re counting down the days until after the holidays, knowing that you need to drink or drug as much as possible before going to treatment. After all, you won’t be able to use ever again after that – might as well get it all in right now. While you’re having your last hoorah, you:
- Get a DUI – and spend the holidays in jail or court
- Are too drunk or high to be there physically, mentally, or emotionally for your family at the holidays
- Get behind the wheel while intoxicated and get in a dangerous or deadly wreck (as drunk driving wrecks tend to peak this time of year)
None of these options actually involve being there for your family or creating happy holiday memories. If one or more of the above were to happen, think how your family would be affected: instead of celebrating the holidays now and in the future, they’ll be mourning your consequences – or worse.
If your loved one is struggling with addiction –
You know your loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, and you also know that the holidays are here. As much as you want to be able to spend the season with them – you need to think in their best interest. While he or she will be in an addiction treatment campus for the holidays, you’ll actually find peace in knowing your loved one is:
- In a safe, healthy place. When the last time you were able to lay your head on the pillow not having to worry about an overdose or wreck?
- Not having a “last hoorah.” The holidays are often a time for overindulgence – and your loved one won’t be drinking or using to deal with the stresses of the season.
- Finally getting on the road to recovery. Know that successful treatment means many years of enjoyable holiday memories ahead.
You don’t have to just “deal with it” and hope to squeak by for a few more weeks. The morbid truth is you may not have the chance to get addiction treatment for you or a loved one if you wait. Delaying treatment for a family member or friend who is in serious trouble with drug or alcohol addiction could have devastating consequences: drunk driving arrests and fatal car accidents peak this time of year, and deadly overdoses happen every single day – and overdoses don’t take holidays off.