The holidays are right around the corner. Even though it may not have been in the initial plan, you or your loved one may need to prioritize your health and attend treatment.
Most of us want to be at home for the holidays – it may be hard to envision distancing yourself from loved ones and missing the fun, food, and festivities. Realizing you will be in treatment for the holidays can leave you feeling sad, upset, or even resentful.
Before you give in to those feelings, take a moment to look at the other side. What you find might just change your mind: treatment can be a gift you didn’t see coming.
Prioritizing Your Health During the Holidays
For some of us struggling with trauma, mental health issues, or addiction, the holiday season can be incredibly taxing. A break from all the usual challenges, scheduling demands, talking points, and undesired outcomes may even sound like a relief. Some people may be excited to get away, knowing they won’t have to face the typical struggles of holidays past.
Whatever feelings you have about the holiday season, it’s essential to remember that your wellness comes first. If you take care of yourself now, you’ll be able to enjoy all the seasonal festivities in the future or have the freedom to create your own new traditions.
Being away from home during the holidays can be a time of healing and growth. It can be hard to recognize the opportunity initially because just the thought of being away from the comforts of home can leave you feeling lonely and unsettled. As hard as that can be, being in a safe, supportive environment can give you the space you need to reflect and heal in so many ways.
Assessing Your Holiday Stress Risk
Holiday movies and songs sell us a holly, jolly story of family, friends, lights, candles, snow, sweets, drinks, and celebrations. But below the frosty façade are a lot of moving pieces – the holidays are stressful, and that stress can pave the way for old coping mechanisms to creep back in.
For someone struggling with an addiction, the holidays are doubly stressful. Family get-togethers are fraught with prodding questions, conflicts, and drama. The feelings can be intense, and stress is a significant trigger for relapse.
Stress can come from almost anywhere. Whether it’s Dad’s traditional Thanksgiving toast or grandma’s famous eggnog, the ghosts of holidays past, or friends who want to celebrate in the old familiar ways with you, there is no shortage of people, places, and situations that can trigger the urge to use. Expectations for a picture-perfect holiday can add to the pressure of remaining sober.
Finding Safety at a Treatment Center
Not everyone has a safe place to go for the holidays. Sometimes, past behaviors have led to a breakdown in family connections. Knowing that and hoping this year might be different means there’s a lot of pressure and probably unrealistic expectations.
While you can’t know for sure what kind of unexpected stressors you’ll have to dodge at home, a treatment center is a safe space built for healing.
Being in treatment over the holidays offers an alternative to another year of the same struggles, arguments, and disappointments. It might sound like avoidance, but treatment is a step forward.
Whether you’re seeking addiction treatment or seeking support with chronic mental health issues, a residential program comes with plenty of gifts you’ll carry home with you in recovery. Here are five gifts that you can look forward to unwrapping in treatment.
Five Gifts of Holiday Treatment
1. The Gift of Reflection
The holidays always seem to evoke memories of times gone by: some good, some we wish had been different. Spending time in treatment allows you to reflect upon the holidays and the meaning they hold for you. Some memories may be painful to recall, but they can be a powerful source of motivation to make changes that will help you in your journey of recovery and healing.
With no pressure or distraction, you can spend time reflecting on past holidays and changes you’d like to make going forward. Are there behaviors that you want to change so that you can more fully enjoy time with your family?
If you’ve made missteps, it can be hard to realize that your actions hurt those you love. But treatment is an opportunity for growth as you accept responsibility for your actions.
2. The Gift of Distance
Distance might sound like the last thing you want during the holidays, but it can be a blessing in disguise. The holidays are a time of celebration and indulgence. Sadly, the holidays are also one of the most dangerous times of the year. Substance-related accidents and, sadly, fatalities increase significantly during the holidays.
Holiday gatherings are fraught with people, places, and situations that can trigger a relapse. You are likely to find yourself trying to deal with triggers and high-risk situations that you may not be ready to handle. Spending that time in treatment helps you avoid those triggers until you have the skills and support you need to manage them in healthy ways.
You get to experience the joy of the holidays without conflicts and temptations, maybe even for the first time. You’ll be able to interact with others in a sober, relaxed setting. It’s an opportunity to try out some of the new skills you’ve learned and maybe recognize some old behaviors you want to change.
3. The Gift of Camaraderie
Treatment can give you the gift of spending the holiday with other people you might have never encountered before. Not everyone has a place to go for the holidays – maybe you chose your addiction and broke ties with your family. Maybe your family asked you not to attend the family celebration this year. Maybe, you just don’t feel like celebrating.
Whatever the reason, being in treatment for the holidays means that you have the chance to celebrate the season with others also in treatment. You’re spending time with people who understand the situation because they are experiencing this time with you.
This shared experience is a unique opportunity to give and receive support. You may find yourself really enjoying this time. No one is judging your past behavior, and there’s none of the family drama that has probably been a part of holidays past. You can relax and enjoy the day. You might even feel relieved – and that’s okay! It’s all part of the process.
4. The Gift You Get to Give
The gift of treatment is one you get to give to the people who love and care for you most. Yes, they will miss you at the dinner table, and you will be missing them. But you can be sure that while they will feel your absence this year, they are thankful and hopeful that you are safe in treatment and getting the help you need.
It’s important to consider not just the short-term consequences but also the long-term possibilities; leaving treatment to be home may feel good at the moment, but the risk of relapse (or worse) is high.
In reality, missing one holiday season is a small price to pay for a lifetime of joyous celebrations. The greatest gift you can give your family is a lifetime of holidays with you there healthy, happy, and rooted in recovery.
5. The Gift of a New Beginning
It might sound just a little cliché, but there’s wisdom in the idea of a “new year, new beginning.” The holidays culminate with the start of a new year. Being in treatment over the holidays means you begin the new year sober and in recovery with a new set of skills. Stepping into the new year with this new confidence sets the tone for a positive journey forward.
Finding a Treatment Center
Entering treatment is a gift you give yourself and your loved ones – it symbolizes the beginning of recovery and new hope for healing and restored family bonds.
At All Points North, we value the importance of family and understand how difficult it can be to choose treatment during the holidays. We incorporate a family approach for every client because family involvement increases the likelihood of sustained recovery.
If you or a loved one is considering treatment, our team of expert clinicians and addiction specialists is ready to help. Nestled in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, APN Lodge offers a luxury rehab experience with the perfect environment for healing, personal growth, and recovery.
Using evidence-based, client-centered treatment approaches, including individual and family therapy, our team of clinicians has the expertise to guide you through the process from referral through program completion.
To learn about our treatment approach and custom offerings, reach out to one of our caring contact center team members at 855.235.9792 or complete the online contact form today. Let us help you find your way forward so you can enjoy the holiday season for years to come.
- Sinha, Rajita. “How Does Stress Lead to Risk of Alcohol Relapse?” Alcohol Research: Current Reviews, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2012, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3788822/.
- Stricklin, Rhonda. “Thanksgiving Driving: UA Research Shows Travel, Combined with Alcohol, Weather Can Be Deadly.” University of Alabama News, The University of Alabama, 17 Nov. 2011, https://news.ua.edu/2011/11/thanksgiving-driving-ua-research-shows-travel-combined-with-alcohol-weather-can-be-deadly/.