How to Confront Your Addict This Holiday Season

family intervention

The holidays can be an extraordinarily stressful time of year for a lot of families. There are families who deal with the regular anxieties of the Christmas season; worrying about making sure they get the right gifts that their kids want, even though they’re sold out in every store. Others worry about all the company that’s expected at the house for Christmas dinner and hope that grandma doesn’t drink too much and behaves herself. Kids at college are packing their things for break and are excited to not only see their families for the first time in five or six months but to also rekindle lost high school friendships that started dwindling since going away to school. A lot of people are gearing up for what most would consider to be a “normal” holiday season. Decking the halls, singing carols, and the whole family sitting on the living room floor opening Christmas gifts together in the quintessential Christmas scene. While many families are having that picture-perfect holiday, others are dealing with a whole different kind of stress.

There are families this holiday season who are going to be dealing with addiction along with the stress of it being the Christmas season. Some families are going to become newly aware that a loved one is addicted to drugs, while other families are preparing for yet another holiday that might be ruined by an addict already in the family. While some families don’t want to talk about their son’s or daughter’s addiction and save it for after the holidays, others are struggling to figure out what to do about it immediately. One truth about addiction is that it doesn’t care what time of year it is or what holiday it is. The addiction will persist regardless. In previous articles I’ve written about how families should absolutely not wait until after the holidays to deal with an addict. Saving it for later means being okay with the drama and the chaos that might ensue during your family gathering or dinner. That means being okay with the lying, stealing, and disappearing acts. And that also means being okay with the insurmountable stress the addict puts on the family.

Realistically, every family should confront their addict this holiday season. Besides, what better gift to give to someone than the gift of changing their lives forever? I get that it’s easier said than done and that some families have no idea how to confront their loved one. For starters, the whole family should not confront the addict. See, addicts like to feel safe and if mom, dad, sister, brother, grandma and uncle all confront the addict at the same time, you’re more than likely going to see the addict run out the door and into the “loving” arms of their drug dealer. The best way to confront them is by sending one, maybe two people to pull the addict aside privately, tell them they love them and encourage them to get help.

The second piece of advice I have for families is to talk about it. Actually do something about it. Being reasonable with your addict is by far the worst thing a family can do. What I mean by being reasonable is accepting the addict and the way things are until after the holidays for the sake of looking good in front of other people. Look, there shouldn’t be any shame or guilt within a family just because someone is an addict. Back in the day, I would understand families wanting to brush everything under the carpet and keep it hidden because of how embarrassing it was for some people. Addiction is so widespread these days that it’s not uncommon for a family to deal with something like this. So, don’t hide what’s going on. Confront it. Deal with it. Get them help so that next Christmas can be better. What ends up happening is that some families won’t confront their loved one due to the holidays and then after the holidays, there’s just another excuse why the addict either won’t agree to treatment or the family won’t push them to go.

“They just need to go back to school and get their head on straight.”

“He’ll be fine. He just needs to find a job now that Christmas is over.

Those are just some of the pitfalls some families fall into.

The point I’m making here is, do the most loving thing you possibly can for your addicted child or family member this holiday season. Confront them and deal with the problem head-on. Don’t hide it, don’t ignore it and definitely don’t save it for later. Do something now. Give them the gift of a new life.

You’ll be glad you did.


Jason Good

Jason has been working in the field of addiction and recovery for over 10 years. Having been an addict himself he brings real-word experience to the table when helping addicts and their families, while also offering a first-person perspective to the current drug crisis. Jason is passionate about educating the public about what’s currently going on in our society, and thankfully, offers practical solutions. Jason is also the co-host of The Addiction Podcast—Point of No Return. You can follow Jason on Google+, Twitter, or connect with him on LinkedIn.