Is Christmas the Best Time to Go to Rehab?
There’s never a “good “ time to go to drug rehab and it’s usually inconvenient to handle an addict in the family. Addicts will come up with all sorts of excuses as to why they shouldn’t go to rehab right now.
“It’s Christmas and I really want to spend time with the family.”
“I’ll get help after New Years.”
“I won’t go until after grandma’s birthday.”
“I don’t really have a problem anyway. I’ll stop when it gets out-of-control.”
These excuses are ridiculous! If an addict’s drug use is blatantly noticeable; there’s little crisis situations happening every week—money, electronics and other possessions are “missing,” and they bounce from one job to the next, the addict needs help. And they need help now! One of the biggest excuses addicts give to not go to a drug treatment center is that they won’t go until after the holidays. When spending time with the family wasn’t a priority in the past, all of a sudden, the addict is highly family-centric and that becomes their motivation to not go and get help.
The sad part is that some families fall for these excuses. Here’s a possible scenario:
Johnny, all strung out, pleads and pleads with his family to let him stay home through the holidays and promises to go to rehab after Christmas. The family, feeling sorry for Johnny, decide that he can stay with the family, spend Christmas morning opening presents and drinking hot cocoa; everyone laughing and enjoying each other’s company. A “picture-perfect” Christmas, if you will. But that’s not reality. Not one little bit. The reality of the situation is that Johnny can’t stop shooting up heroin. So, the week before Christmas, Johnny needs his mom to give him money for his “rent” or to “buy presents” and he asks her quietly, in the kitchen, away from the rest of the family. Mom says “no” and an argument ensues because Johnny really needs the money for heroin so he doesn’t get dope sick. When Johnny and his mom start yelling at each other, his dad gets involved and everything explodes into a huge yelling match. Johnny’s parents give in and give him the money to “keep the peace.” So Johnny leaves and goes out for 4 hours trying to cop some dope while his mom, dad, brother, sister, aunt, uncle and cousins are at the house, trying not to talk about the “pink elephant” in the room. So much for Johnny wanting to spend time with his family.
The next evening, Johnny gets high in the bathroom before dinner, comes down to the table and nods off in his plate. His sister kicks him under the table to wake him up. Johnny wipes his face, trying to play it off.
“I didn’t sleep well last night, I’m really tired.”
Johnny gets up and goes to his room for the rest of the night and isolates away from everyone. Johnny uses all his dope and is desperate again to find a way to get money for drugs. There’s lots of presents under the tree, he notices. “Screw it” he says, as he takes all the gifts to the pawn shop for ¾ less money than everything is worth. The next morning the family comes down to open presents, and disturbingly, they’re all gone.
“Where’s Johnny?” his mother yells. She and his dad march up to his room where Johnny has overdosed.
It’s a sad scene and, while an extreme example, this is the reality for some families on Christmas.
It’s never a “good” or “right” time to put a loved one into treatment. If an addict is struggling with substance abuse, get them help, and get them help immediately. Don’t let them use the “after the holidays” excuse. While the addict may actually want to spend time with the family, more often than not, it’s going to turn ugly. Christmas is a time of joy and happiness for many families and dealing with an addicted loved one can taint the holiday season.
The best advice is to get them into treatment, regardless of what time of year it is. There’s always going to be an excuse as to why the addict won’t go to treatment right now. The family should not agree with the "reasons" and give in to their excuses. Get them treatment, and get them treatment fast. The sooner the addict goes to treatment, the sooner the family can actually have a good holiday season with their loved one; once they are cleaned up, sober and have their addiction fully handled.