Coping with holiday parties during recovery

Healthwise: Approaching Holiday Parties During Recovery

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The holiday season means festive parties and an overindulgence of food and alcohol.

Imagine the additional stress to those who are in the early stages of recovery and trying to say no to alcohol.

Most of us have heard that breaking away from an addiction is a life long struggle. Curt Maddon, the CEO of the Ranch at Dove Tree, says that’s not true. He says the first holiday is the hardest but each year gets better while the brain is healing. He explains, “The good news about recovery is you’re not going to walk around for the rest of your life wanting to use drugs or drink alcohol. What’s happening internally when a person goes into recovery is they’re learning a design for living to practice on a daily basis. And two, their brain, where addiction and alcoholism center, is healing and the more time goes by with a sustained recovery effort, the more healing the brain receives. So what you experience this year is not going to be like anything you experience next year. And most in recovery will tell you it gets easier.”

When there is alcohol at a party, Maddon says the person in recovery should have an exit strategy in advance to parachute out if there are uncomfortable triggers. Maddon also has suggestions for the person giving the party. He says “The person who knows what they need more than anyone else is the person who’s going through recovery. So ask them, How can I support you? I know there’s going to be alcohol at the gathering today. Is that ok with you? Are you uncomfortable with that? They know what they need and they will tell you.”

Sometimes, families may want to take a different approach in helping a loved one in recovery. He offers this example, "We really don’t want you to come if it’s going to be a strain on your sobriety. We really are glad you’re sober and we want to be helpful. Let them tell you what they need.”

Overall, Maddon says families should know that the process of recovery gets better.

He says, “It does get better and I can tell you as a long time recovery person myself, it is not a struggle at all. The good news is it’s tough in the beginning months, but it gets better. It just becomes intuitive, part of your life.”

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