The holiday season is commonly described as an enjoyable time of the year. Celebrations and alcohol fuelled events are in full swing around Christmas Day and New Year. It’s a busy, overwhelming and emotional time of the year for everyone. Yet, as those celebrations occur, some individuals will feel out of place.

Christmas for addicts can be challenging – especially if rehabilitation is a current aim. Surrounded by family members, friends and even co-workers can get a bit too much. From alcohol triggers and mental health battles, such as paranoia, to visiting alcohol fuelled settings, this can be a very tough time for addicts.

It’s important to remember that those suffering with an addiction are experiencing that exact feeling – they are struggling to deal with their behavioural illness. Their day to day feels impossible to achieve, battling through ongoing consumption and the desire to stop. With this in mind, celebratory moments across the Christmas period can make those feelings ten times worse.

Here’s why Christmas for addicts can be challenging, along with ways to support them. If you’re currently suffering through the holiday season, there are also some active steps you can take to make it the most enjoyable experience possible.


The difficulties of Christmas for addicts

Through the Christmas celebrations, there are many difficult episodes and emotions commonly experienced by those living with behavioural illnesses. After all, Christmas promotes a drinking culture, where many will follow the ‘it’s Christmas’ excuse. Yet, for those suffering addicts, this isn’t an excuse at all, it is their reality.

Here are some difficulties impacting those affected by addiction this holiday season:

The added pressure to fit in:

Around celebratory moments, everyone’s aim is to fit in and enjoy the moment. Yet, by fitting in for addicts, they will be placed in a challenging situation – a situation which will likely fuel their alcohol and drug use greater.

So, while you tell those affected by addiction to ‘let their hair down’ or ‘one drink won’t hurt’, remember that fully embracing the moment and consuming addictive substances could advance their addiction.

Being surrounded by excess drinking:

For addicts, one of the main ways to control their consumption is by staying out of sight. Yet, throughout the holiday season, this will be impossible. In this instance, it is likely that they will be surrounded by excess drinking. As a nation, we drink a lot through the festivities.

Being surrounded by this type of behaviour can be very difficult for addicts; making it difficult for them to control their temptations. A single trigger could send them into a binge, spiralling their addiction side effects out of control.

Having to justify themselves:

Christmas is for family. Yet, imagine having to justify yourself and your behaviour to those you briefly see once a year. This is the reality for many addicts suffering through substance abuse.

Justifying their choices or talking their way out of deep conversations may be an hourly occurrence. This can be even harder while others are also drinking excessively, where all modesty goes out the window.

Feeling lonely:

Christmas for addicts can in fact be a very lonely time. With the aim to shut off from all drug and alcohol triggers or family encounters, this commonly enjoyed time can feel empty.

Yet, by experiencing the festive season alone, there is potential for the mind to drift, known to cause many mental health issues. For those individuals alone this Christmas, depression, paranoia and anxiety could be felt, all from feeling unwelcomed.

Experiencing old memories:

For some individuals dealing with an addiction, Christmas may be an easier time to cope, surrounded by a strong support network. Yet, for other addicts, Christmas may be one of the reasons their addiction has started.

By celebrating the festive period, those old memories have the potential to reach the surface, causing greater drug and alcohol abuse.


Offering your support this Christmas

If you’re spending this Christmas with someone experiencing a behavioural illness, such as an addiction, offering support is one of the best ways to promote comfort. Although this is easier said than done, before the celebrations do begin, offering a listening ear will help to ease their anxious feelings.

Additionally, it’s recommended to invite your friends or family members who are suffering to suitable events. This will avoid them feeling lonely and unwelcomed. Yet, it’s vital that you select the event wisely, avoiding exposure to excess drinking or temptation.

To make this Christmas enjoyable for addicts, the best thing you can do is to understand what they are going through. Ask them what makes this time of year worse, what alleviates those psychological temptations, along with ways to reduce potential relapses. This will make Christmas for an addict worthwhile – something we should all get to enjoy.


How to overcome a challenging Christmas

If you’re affected by addiction, there are some positive steps you can take to enjoy Christmas greater. The main step to take is to source continuous support. Whether that’s through family members you can rely upon or addiction professionals. Many rehab facilities will promote these supportive sessions around the festive season, as they understand how Christmas for addicts can be difficult. Therefore, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, reaching out for support will be beneficial this Christmas.

Further steps you can take will be to promote sobriety as much as possible. Whether that’s finding a sober support group party or going along with a designated driver, managing your environment is key. Here you’ll have the potential to avoid drug and alcohol related temptations.

Avoiding excess substance abuse is one of the main ways you can work through Christmas. However, it’s important to work through this on a year-round basis. If you’re struggling with an addiction, reaching out to our team here at Ocean Recovery Centre will help you overcome your behavioural illness for good.

Set the intentions now to recover before next Christmas. We can make this a potential for you through our leading addiction treatments.

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: March 26, 2021

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.