Trick or Treatment—Home for the Holidays or Getting Help
It’s that time of year again. As October approaches the first wave of the holiday decorations are appearing in the form of pumpkins, witches and cobwebs. Next, we’ll have Thanksgiving in November, Christmas in December, then ring in the new year in January. The next four months each bring their holiday occasion celebrated by costumes, feasts, fancy decorations, and lots of parties. It’s the time of year that allows a lot of us the opportunity to break from work and be with our families and friends. But let’s be real for a moment. This time of year isn’t always a pleasant time of year, especially for the addict who goes home and by default becomes the elephant in the room before a word is spoken. It’s also the time of year that gives both the addict and the addict’s family a 3-month-long excuse to put off getting help.
If there is one thing I’ve learned through all my years fighting addiction it’s that an addict will find nearly any excuse to protect their addiction. Wanting to be home for the holidays is one of the easiest tricks in the book for an addict to prolong addiction and put off getting help because it’s a trick family member often fall for because they want the same thing. One of the biggest problems with this logic is that as soon as the holidays pass there are a hundred more excuses just waiting in the wings that will inevitably be used. There are empty promises made in the form of New Year’s resolutions. There is work piling up to pay for holiday expenses and vacations. For the football fan, there are the NFL playoffs. There will never be a shortage of reasons not to go to treatment for an addict bent on protecting the one thing he or she cares more about than anything else—their addiction.
There is also another truth that often goes overlooked when people put off treatment for the holidays. As first-hand experience has taught me, having an addict home for the holidays is rarely pleasant and far more often a difficult experience full of tension in the air. A time for celebration quickly soars into intoxicated bickering, arguing, and name-calling. Embarrassment is typically a theme for all parties involved. The addict is embarrassed by both the state they are in and the behaviors that follow. The family members are embarrassed by the addict and their behaviors and emotions that follow. Hurt feelings and strong emotions that have been buried during the occasional phone conversations throughout the year suddenly boil over when the whole family is gathered in the same room. The addict suddenly gets a very good idea of what the family members talk about regarding the addiction when they aren’t around. It’s hard for a family member to watch their loved one suffer through addiction. It’s even harder watching it happen over Christmas dinner.
Of course, these are all hypothetical and may or may not happen, but as I said earlier, such things have happened with myself and I know of others who have struggled with similar situations. There is a stark reality that must be considered before deciding to wait through the holidays to get help when help is needed now. It’s September. The holidays will last through January, and while there are four holidays between now and then if you include Halloween, that is four more months of pain and suffering with absolutely no guarantee January will come for the addict at all. There is also no guarantee an addict will still have the freedom to be able to go to treatment in January. There are simply no guarantees at all when it comes to addiction, except that addiction only gets worse until something gets done about it. Addiction doesn’t take a break for the holidays, it remains relentless in its ability to destroy lives.
The only time for the addict who needs help to get help is NOW. It’s that simple. The only good decision is to get the help needed so next year’s holidays and the many years after that can be enjoyed and celebrated for what they are meant to be. Use this holiday season to celebrate your life and make the changes necessary to have a life worth living and a holiday worth celebrating. There can be no greater gift the addict can give the people they want to spend the holidays with than the gift of being clean. That’s also something I have first-hand experience of and another reason I look forward to the holidays this year.
Please, if you or anyone you know is seeking help, reach out now.