Resources & Education

December 14th, 2018

Supporting a Love One in Recovery During the Holidays

Couple walking in winter forestLast week we shared some ideas to help those in recovery stay the course during the holidays. But what about for family and friends of those in recovery? Yes, there are things that you can do to help as well!

The best way to help your loved one deal with the holidays is to work with them to create a sober strategy for the season. In addition to planning a schedule for AA/NA meetings, and seeing their counselor on a regular basis, also suggest plans to deal with parties and social events. Here are some ideas:

  • Offer to be a loved one’s book-end phone call. As a book-end, your loved one can call you on their way to and from a holiday party. This gives your loved one a planned course of action to follow and accountability.
  • Help your loved one develop an escape plan. Tell your loved one that you will be there should they find themselves in a stressful situation. Practicing a couple of quick excuses will help your loved one stay in calm and collected when they want to leaver or get out of a situation quickly. Be sure to encourage your loved one to drive themselves and not rely on someone else for a ride, which makes it easier to escape a tough situation. Or offer to provide them with an Uber or a free ride home from yours truly!
  • Encourage your loved one to avoid people they used to use with. Coming home for the holidays can also mean being around people that don’t support your recovery. By offering to hang out with your loved one you can encourage them to stay around those people that are best for recovery.
  • Adjust your mindset. Remember that you are not in control of your loved one’s decisions. You can be supportive, but ultimately recovery is up to them.

Lastly, encourage your loved one to practice self-care all year round, but especially during the holiday season. This includes drinking plenty of water, eating fruits/veggies, avoiding processed foods, and getting a full night’s sleep. In addition, you can help your loved one find small breaks during December. Invite your loved one on a short crisp nighttime walk to look at holiday lights and get fresh air. The cold night air can help calm nerves when at family gatherings, even a short walk can be beneficial. Overall, the best thing you can do is be present and reliable. Be available to talk and offer support when they need it.


With all the hustle and bustle involved with the holiday season, it can be a trying time for those in recovery. While everyone is sensitive to the stress caused by numerous holiday parties, family dinners, and financial commitments, those in recovery are even more susceptible to these stressors. Helping your loved one through this time of year can make a huge difference in his/her well-being.

If you or someone you know needs support, please reach out to Horizon Health Services at (716) 831-1800. And remember that the Addiction Open Access Hotline is available 24/7 at (716) 831/7077.


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