Seeking Drug and Alcohol Treatment For Friends and Family During the Holidays

by Chris Clancy

December 4, 2017

Finding help for friends and family over the holidays can be challenging. It’s hard to know when to seek help, where to turn, and whether or not the holidays are the right time to pursue drug and alcohol treatment. We had the pleasure of interviewing Angela, an industry expert from Brass Tacks Recovery, on what treatment over the holidays might look like. 

Some Tips From Intervention Leaders, Brass Tacks Recovery:

JourneyPure: What advice do you have for families if they suspect drug/alcohol abuse of a loved one? If someone shows up to a family gathering inebriated, how might you know if they are in need of professional help? How could a family member know when to seek help from an interventionist?

Angela: The family may want to try and control the situation. We do not suggest this. Yet, we do advise that the family pay attention to the individual’s behaviors and life situations.  If the person is struggling with substance abuse issues, there will be indicators of unmanageability in career, relationships, personal affairs, etc.

If the family can lovingly confront the situation, we suggest they do so. This can be difficult for the family as the natural tendency is to try and solve, rescue, or fix the problem. We encourage family members to be direct and honest with the individual that may be struggling. However, if this does not work, we highly recommend the family seek professional help. 

As a word of caution, we see many families that avoid getting professional help. As a result of this, the family and the loved one can end up on a “treatment center carousel.” This term describes an ongoing admission and discharge cycle for the client in and out of treatment centers. The result of this is exhausted financial resources for the family, and no long-term sobriety for the individual. 

JourneyPure: What are some signs or key indicators a family member might notice when a loved one is actively using?
Angela: Some key signs and indicators a family member may notice are that the individual is using poor judgement in relationships, being dishonest and manipulative, experiencing financial trouble, neglecting his/her responsibilities and isolating.
JourneyPure: With the holidays rapidly approaching, families may wonder if sending a loved one to treatment over the holidays is a good idea. Do you have thoughts on timing?
Angela: We understand that the holidays are when families come together. Yet, addiction is a fatal disease. We do not feel that an event such as a holiday should supersede the individual’s health, safety, and long term well-being. When it is deemed necessary, we recommend the individual enter treatment immediately.
JourneyPure: What words of encouragement or comfort might you have for someone who is planning to be away from family to receive treatment over the holidays?
Angela: Brass Tacks believes that one of the best gifts a recovering person can give to their family is a commitment to a new way of life in recovery.  We know how hard it is for the family to trust the treatment process, especially when they are concerned their loved one will be lonely in treatment. We ask the family to focus on the bigger goal of spending many future holidays with their loved one.
JourneyPure: What tips do you have for those in early recovery for handling the holidays, since alcohol typically plays a large role in holiday gatherings?
Angela: First, we encourage families to have an alcohol-free holiday because their loved one is new in recovery. Also, our advice is that the newly recovering person follow the advice of their sponsor, mentor, or case manager around the holiday season. The person in early recovery should be open with their support team about any feelings they are experiencing around the holidays. We also coach the family to help them understand that the most important thing is to support whatever their newly sober loved one needs to protect their sobriety. Some people in early recovery will not be able to attend certain family gatherings until they have developed strong sobriety tools. Mostly, we ask the family and the individual to be patient and stay in the moment. Recovery is a process of building life skills—one day at a time.
JourneyPure: Family stress is noted as being higher around the holidays. What coping strategies do you have for those in recovery?
Angela: We encourage our families to work with a therapist who understands addiction treatment and/or attend various support groups such as Al-Anon. This will help them better understand addiction while learning how to establish healthy boundaries with the newly sober person. Some healthy strategies for those in recovery are to attend support group meetings, volunteer and be of service to the community, reach out and be accountable to their recovery network, and establish a day-to-day timeline to stay active. This will prevent potential boredom. Most importantly, we recommend that the person have a preventative “exit plan” in place should a triggering situation arise.

About Brass Tacks Recovery

Brass Tacks Recovery works to provide families with a number of addiction support services. They employ a highly credentialed and experienced staff, specializing in interventions, client case management, recovery/life coaching, client transportation, family support services and more.

About JourneyPure

We are a behavioral healthcare company with facilities located across the Southeast aimed at setting the standard in addiction treatment. We provide real solutions to the addiction epidemic by deploying systems of care to communities with the greatest need.

*This blog post is part of a series where JourneyPure is interviewing trusted, well-respected industry peers to help provide families and patients realize all options when it comes to drug and alcohol treatment. We do not accept any fees for referrals and we are not officially endorsed or employed by any one we interview. 

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