Religious holiday or not, when the family gets together, you can pretty much expect that uncle Harry will have the scotch out. Or the moms and aunties will gather in the kitchen for one, or two, or five glasses of chardonnay. Easter is no different. It is vastly important that, as a recovering alcoholic, your loved one feels welcome at your family functions. As family members, there actually are a couple of things we can do to help our loved ones maintain and manage their sobriety with success while helping them feel valued and cared for.
A recovering addict is doing some of the hardest work of their lives. This work didn’t end the moment they stepped out of a treatment center. It continues in their group sessions, 12 steps programs, outpatient meetings, daily mental checks, overcoming triggers and cravings—basically around-the-clock sobriety management. It is always a good idea to encourage them in their journey. If you are noticing a difference in your loved one’s life, tell them. Encouragement is important especially during a holiday.
Family functions can drive the best of us to look for the bottle. These experiences can be overwhelming, and for a recovering addict, especially early on, this could compromise their resolve. Tell your loved one how much they are wanted this Easter, but that they are free to do whatever they need to do. Their sobriety is most important this weekend … more important than relatives feeling snubbed.
Hiding from an addiction is never the right answer. Each person, no matter their stage of recovery, has different needs. As well, a person who is successfully managing their recovery is the expert on what helps and what hinders. Never assume you know more about a person’s sobriety than they do. So the first and most important step in successfully celebrating Easter is to ask your loved one what they need. Their answer may surprise you, but at the very least it helps keep things open while also reinforcing that you respect their journey as well as the work the are doing to manage it.
Booze is such a big part of the American gathering psyche that non-alcoholic options are often afterthoughts. The wine is covered, the beer is cooling, there is water for the kids … and that’s about it. If you are hosting and you have anyone managing sobriety in attendance, at the very least, have multiple drink options available. Sparkling water, sodas, juices, and specialty teas are great options. But you can do even more: make a non-alcholic drink one of your priorities. The classic sherbet punch bowl is always a winner or maybe a coffee station. Here is a list of fun options to try (remember, some drinks that mimic alcohol counterparts could increase cravings for some).
Let your loved one bring a sober friend. Camaraderie is absolutely essential in maintaining lasting sobriety. Resolve is strengthened, will-power is girded, and just having someone else who actually understands, on the deep level, the work involved, actually takes some of the sting out of it.
Easter is just another time of the year. The emotional energy mixed with the family gathering and all the stresses that come with that kind of event do not guarantee any kind of relapse. However, the schedule changes along with the get-togethers and even the travel and having to make sure the deviled eggs don’t spoil on the car ride over, these are all small stressors that could contribute to a relapse. Simply caring and being aware of the toll on your loved one is pivotal in helping them navigate their Easter this year with full success.
If you or a loved one is struggling with chemical dependency and are ready for help, please call 1-844-244-7837. We are ready to give you any suggestions possible and set you or your loved one on a path toward lasting recovery.