The weather is taking a turn as you flip your calendar over to November. It seems the year has flown by once again and the holidays are fast approaching. Holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve mean a fun, relaxing time for many. Coming together with friends and family to celebrate the season marks an enjoyable time of the year, no matter which holidays you observe.

When you have a loved one who battles addiction, though, the holidays may not be so pleasant. Instead of focusing on bringing the family together for a delicious meal, you’re focused on making sure your loved one shows up sober (or as close to sober as possible). 

You’re probably used to spending the evenings babysitting from afar. The last thing you want is your loved one creating unnecessary stress at the gathering. You try to keep them from the celebratory champagne toasts, the wine during dinner, the mixed drinks with the other adults in the kitchen. You’re so consumed by what your loved one is doing that you can hardly let your guard down the entire night.

Or maybe your loved one no longer shows up to participate in the gatherings. Instead of keeping watch over them throughout the night, you spend the time heartbroken by their inability to show up. Their absence is a constant reminder of the sharp impact that drug or alcohol abuse has on your family.

Handling the holidays when your loved one battles addiction can be a painful experience. What are some ways for you to prepare for the season so you can still enjoy yourself regardless of what your loved one does this year?

Take Care Of Yourself First

Taking care of yourself first is the best way to prepare for the holidays when a loved one suffers from alcohol or drug addiction. It’s like the pilot reminds you when you’re on an airplane, “Put on your oxygen mask first before helping those around you.” You’ll leave yourself worn thin and tired out if you don’t do the things you need to care for yourself; you’re far more likely to lash out or engage in arguments once you reach this point.

It’s time to start caring for yourself now. Don’t wait until the holidays arrive. Allow yourself some quiet time every day to unwind, whether that’s in the morning or the evening. Decide what you need to care for yourself before Thanksgiving arrives. Start these activities right away so they’re part of your routine by the time the real challenges of the holidays arise. 

Do Your Best Not to Babysit

Babysitting your loved one becomes second nature after they’ve struggled with addiction for months or years. You’re probably used to predicting possible conflict long before it ever arises and intervening to keep it from happening. But when you babysit your loved one you’re only enabling their behavior. Keeping things from reaching a breaking point could be one of the very things keeping them sick.

Challenge yourself not to take on the role of babysitter this holiday season, as difficult as it may be. Don’t make excuses for either their behavior or their absence, don’t count the drinks they consume, don’t nag them about whether they’re coming or when they’ll arrive. Make this the year you decide to focus on yourself and give yourself permission to enjoy the holidays.

Establish Some Boundaries

You’re likely more than familiar with the importance of boundaries yet they’re always a challenge to stick to. Boundaries are a critical part of living with a family member with substance addiction. They will more than likely take every opportunity to use you in one way or another; it’s part of the condition of addiction.

If you don’t already have some boundaries in place, now is the time to set them. You’re allowed to set limits and saying no is a complete sentence. Decide what you will and will not tolerate from your loved one this holiday season. This may mean you won’t serve as their personal Uber if they drink too much, you won’t make excuses for them if they choose not to show, or maybe you would prefer they only come if they can stay sober. 

Reach Out For Help

The holidays should be an enjoyable time of year, but they often leave family members of a person battling an addiction to deal with immense stress. If you have a child struggling with drug or alcohol addiction this holiday season and aren’t sure what to do, reach out for help. There are plenty of resources available to keep you from handling the holidays alone.

You can join the free, private Beyond Addiction Facebook group to find support from other parents just like you. Everyone who loves someone with addiction understands the difficulties of the holiday season. Surrounding yourself with support from people who understand what you’re going through during this time of year is the best way to get through it.

Wondering whether it’s time for you to seek additional help? Take the Get Sober and Stay Sober Family Assessment to determine if your problems are now beyond your control. You have options available and don’t need to deal with your loved one by yourself; there are ways to help your child find recovery. All you need to do is reach out for help.