Many people pride themselves on “doing it all” throughout the year and especially throughout the Holidays. Our society praises the go-getters, the super moms and dads and keeping up with a fast paced technology driven culture. However, when an individual gets sober, they are given the opposite suggestions. Many are told that they need to slow down, ask for help, find balance, listen to their minds and bodies. Meanwhile, they look on Facebook or Instagram and see images of their friend juggling 3 kids and a job while having time to make homemade cookies for the school Holiday party. Many use social media to show others all that they are “doing”. Meanwhile, those who are trying to “undo”, to disconnect and slow down may not be posting on social media- they may simply be enjoying the moment.
The Holidays are a time that is supposed to be enjoyable, but inevitably adds an extra layer of tasks, to-do lists, socializing and shopping that can overwhelm most people. In early sobriety, it is expected that individuals slow down and stay away from stressful events and people. However, those in and out of recovery could all use help from friends and family, but often do not ask. They may also have Holiday obligations that they are no longer able nor willing to attend.. Getting sober can be an excuse to streamline your Holiday traditions and “doing”, but everyone is allowed to set these limits and should. When people slow down, they are able to enjoy the smaller moments of the Holidays. Being busy leads even pleasurable Holiday events to blur together and lose meaning.
If you are throwing a party but are stressed about cooking all of the food, why not ask guests to bring dishes and have a potluck party? If you do not have time to write out detailed Christmas cards, but want to, why not ask friends or family to help you to stuff the envelopes or have cards printed with messages so that you can write less on the card? If you are trying to attend 5 Holiday parties in one day, why not choose the events that mean the most to you? If you have always made handmade gifts but just don’t have the time this year, why not just buy gifts or donate to a charity in the name of that person?
It is important for everyone to give themselves permission to ask for help or set limits. People want to help others- whether they are in early sobriety or not. However, many people often choose not to receive that help for fear of judgement. It is more admirable for people to reach out for support than to push through and hurt themselves trying to be an overachiever.
The In-Home Addiction Treatment Institute is training addiction professionals to treat individuals in their home who have substance-use disorders. This model allows the treatment teams to individualize care and to connect clients with support and psychoeducation within their family, clinically and in their community. The Holidays can be a challenging time for those with addictive issues. IHAT trained treatment providers can make it easier for clients to ask for help, receive care and to provide them with guidance to better manage this time of year by setting necessary boundaries and making healthy choices for navigating this festive time of year.
By Sarah Allen Benton, MS, LMHC, LPC AADC