Surviving the Holidays with a Recovering Addict

Love, Self

Here is a roadmap to navigate this time of year TOGETHER!

With the holidays approaching it can be very trying on relationships… especially if you are in a relationship with someone making a go at being in recovery from drugs and alcohol. Most holiday gatherings are centered around alcohol and family – two things that are problems for most addicts. Having a roadmap to navigate this time of year is the key to keeping your relationship healthy and supporting your partner through recovery.

Here are our Top Five Tools to Surviving the Holidays with a Recovering Addict:

1. Speak How You Feel.

This sounds so easy and yet can be so hard when we are in love with someone who has an addictive personality. Communication is the foundation to every healthy relationship, so this essential step is crucial. Share your worries, your fears, your concerns from a place of responsibility – “I feel worried that…,” “I am scared that…”

Using “I” based language as opposed to “you” based language is the best way to avoid blaming or shaming your partner. Own your feelings. Take responsibility for them. This will leave room for your partner to take responsibility for their feelings.

Share your feelings as an example. Do not ask, “How are you feeling?” Let them share when they decide to do it on their own.

If worry comes up all the time and is pushed into anxiety, get yourself the help of a professional to deal with your own emotions. It is not your partner’s job to “make” you feel differently. How you feel belongs to you. Own it.

2. Trust.

Trust does not occur on a dimmer switch. We either trust someone, or we don’t. When making a go at your relationship, particularly, when someone is in recovery it’s imperative that you give it everything you’ve got, so either you’re in or you’re out. No sitting on the fence.

If you are concerned about your partner’s ability to stay in recovery, and not relapse, make the deal-breaker LYING about their behavior, not whether they use. This is a great way to keep Trust alive in your relationship so that you can support your partner in their recovery completely.

Sharing a simple, “I believe in you” can work wonders, and you must mean it, don’t put on a show.

3. Inspire Your Partner to Connect.

Addiction occurs to avoid feeling some negative emotion. It is a coping method. Inspire your partner to connect with you, not to check out. A “Movie Night” is not a great way to inspire connection.

Instead, plan activities that inspire you and your partner to connect: Try a new restaurant, or stay in and have a meal blindfolded while being fed by your partner (then switch), go ice skating, or hiking, or watch a game together, or host a game night, etc.

It doesn’t have to be activities for just the two of you, however, plan something that you both enjoy, where you can have connection and share how much fun you had together at the end of the day and beyond.

4. Give Your Partner Space.

Someone in recovery needs to go through their own process of transforming their life. This is a unique process for each individual. Give your partner the space they need to establish this new way of being.

If they pull away from you emotionally, allow it. As long as they are working their program and getting help, give them the space to not communicate if that is their choice. Trust that when they feel like sharing with you, they will.

When we feel pressured to be a certain way resistance comes into the picture. Giving your partner space to just be…however they choose to be in the moment is a way to really show your love.

5. Focus On The Good.

It can be so easy to be negative or cynical around the holidays…especially if that’s been your habit. Share what you’re grateful for on a regular basis. Tell your partner what you truly adore about him/her.

Put the emphasis on the things that are working. Not on the problems you are having. What you focus on grows, so focus on the good in your life and your relationship. Nurture it and it will grow.

Choose to attend holiday events that are inspiring, not out of obligation. Spending time with people who are positive and happy will help give you some of that holiday cheer, especially spending time with people who are upbeat without the addition of alcohol.

If family events are a challenge, have a code that the two of you can use to leave when things get uncomfortable. Remember it is important that you are taking care of yourselves and not doing things from a sense of obligation.

We know the holidays can be a challenge for so many people. It is even more of a challenge when you are in relationship with someone in recovery. Having a support network will do wonders for keeping you positive and help you avoid feeling isolated. Find a group. Whether it is Al-Anon or some other support group or even a group of concerned friends and family, having a community that understands your challenges is priceless.

Visit and watch a webcast of our interview where we answer more questions about moving through Addiction and into Love.