The intervention was successful – your loved one went to treatment and completed a 90-day program! Has come to seriously follow an aftercare program and getting readjusted to life without the use of mood or mind-altering chemicals. Everyone is elated and cheerful and you are scared to death. Why? Because how do we treat them? What do we do next? The holidays are here.
Many people feel that if their loved one has come back from treatment that we are to behave as if we too have a problem and forbid the use of all alcohol around them. Or not drink in the same room, at the same dinner table, in the same house.
- Don’t let them see us enjoying the use of alcohol.
- We don’t want them to relapse.
- We want to be supportive.
- We want to take away temptation. We want to protect them.
So we place rules on ourselves and everyone else. We think we are going to keep them sober because we are helping them. We are taking away temptations. We are being supportive.
All of these thoughts and actions are nice, but THEY DON’T MAKE A DIFFERENCE. And it makes everyone uncomfortable. And resentful because one more time the addict is the focus of everything.
One thing that we learn as people in recovery is that we have the problem, not everyone else. We have to learn respect and discipline. Some people call this tools. We call it “living life on life’s terms.”
- We are the ones with the problem.
- WE are the ones whose life depends upon the total abstinence of all mood and mind altering substances.
Once we enter active recovery, we start to learn new things. About coping. About taking personal responsibility. About acceptance. Of ourselves and others around us. That for some reason unknown to us or anyone around us we just CAN’T. Pick up that first drink, that first pill. We are also learning that we are not alone. There are other people in this world who are like us. Who have done some of the same dumb, tragic, stupid things and made those same dumb, tragic, stupid decisions as we have and they have lived. And gotten better. And learned…new ways of thinking. Getting rid of the old tapes. Silencing the old demons.
When you are so close to someone, these first holidays can be filled with hurt and fear. But recovery can be and should be a family venture. For all of us to learn. About each other as well as more about the addict. Talking to them…how do you feel about this? Is it acceptable to drink around you, serve alcohol around you. Will the sight bother you, will the smell bother you. I would guess that most of the time the response will be something like “No, I am the one with the problem. No one else should have to pay that price.” Or something similar.
As a recovering addict, it still surprises me when someone close to me will say something that I have never heard before about my active addiction. And I can still hear the pain in their voice. And I have to realize that it is a family disease. And I’M the one with the problem, the one who made holidays and events miserable and stress filled and uncomfortable. Not you or them and them and them. But the addict who now has the joy of relearning how to live. To live sober. To live clean.
So join them on that journey. Enjoy the first set of holidays with them sober. If they are working on their recovery, this will be a time for them filled with joy as well. Let them heal. Let yourself heal. And the family as well.