Wyoming Recovery gives tips for supporting family members in recovery over the holidays

Published: Dec. 21, 2021 at 5:54 PM CST
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - Holiday festivities for adults tend to be centered around alcohol, for people trying to maintain sobriety, spending holidays with family may be hard.

“There are a lot of family traditions that are wrapped around these holidays that include alcohol, so maybe creating new traditions as simple as parties with no alcohol, or outings that are just family,” said Wyoming Recovery Clinical Director Kristi Hann.

Wyoming Recovery offered tips for celebrating Christmas for those in recovery and their family.

According to Hann, communication is the most important aspect of supporting a sober family member. Over time, the needs of the person in recovery will change, so it is important to continually talk about how to help their recovery. One point to revisit at family gatherings is what the person in recovery is comfortable doing or being around during celebrations. Throughout recovery, their comfort levels and ability to be around substances can change.

“What do they need to feel supported during this stressful time? Open the dialogue, the line of communication, and listen to them, find out what they need to feel supported,” said Hann.

Hann says creating new holiday traditions, or finding fun without alcohol is a good way to support recovery. Driving around town to see Christmas lights and decorations, going to the movies, or going ice skating can all be simple, but fun alcohol-free activities.

“If you really think about it any activity that you do, can be just as fun without alcohol... There’s Christmas activities all over this town that won’t involve alcohol,” said Hann.

If going to an event or party where alcohol is involved is unavoidable, making a plan in advance is key.

“Have a safety plan, have an exit plan. Talk to your spouse, your loved one before you go to that party before you go to that event so you have an exit plan if they’re starting to struggle. Don’t go in there blindly without a plan, because they might really begin to struggle and you won’t know it,” said Hann.

When it comes to creating a plan, making sure your loved ones don’t feel like a bother or a burden can help open lines of communication more. Advocating for a family member who is in recovery can be one of the best ways to support them and continue their sobriety.

Hann also encourages family members to join their loved ones at AA or NA meetings during the holiday time. There are daily meetings around Casper as well as online meetings that take place all hours of the day, so support through groups is always available.

Hann says communication, advocacy, accountability, support, and patience are keys to keeping loved ones on their path to recovery during the holidays, but also year round.

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