3 Reasons Not to Wait Until After the Holidays to Get a Loved One Help

Lonely women sitting on the the sofa at home during christmas
Photo by Kerkez/iStockPhoto.com

The holiday season is normally a joyous time of year for families around the world. It’s often characterized by family gatherings, fun, and of course, presents. A lot of people think of a house full of family, big dinners around the table, singing Christmas carols, and going to church. Happiness is felt by many this time of year. This year has been a bit different and the Christmas season seems to have started a bit earlier than normal just to bring some happy feelings back from a year of despair and anxiety caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lights went up a bit earlier to take worried minds off of all the craziness in the world.

While many families look forward to Christmas time each year, other families fear it. For families dealing with addiction, it becomes a time of year where a loved one’s problems need to be swept under the carpet and put away for the time being. Some families start to worry about what problems their addicted loved one might cause, what drama they’ll create, and the hope is to “just get through the holidays” unscathed. Some families even believe that they need to wait until after the holidays to confront a loved one about their addiction because it’s more important to have them there. Some families can’t bear to see their son, daughter, mother, or father in a rehab facility during Christmas instead of being at home with the family.

What’s More Important?

Addiction is often a life-or-death situation. A person who’s addicted to either drugs or alcohol puts themselves and others at risk of death on a daily basis. Opioid users run the risk of overdosing, alcoholics run the risk of killing someone in a drunk driving accident, and other drug users commonly put themselves in dangerous situations buying whatever their drug of choice is. Why would the holidays ever be more important than talking to a family member about getting help? Some families believe that the holidays and being with the family takes precedence over everything. This may be partly because they’re misinformed and actually believe that, or it can also be partly due to not wanting to confront their family member because addiction is a hard thing to face and talk about.

Depressed man
                             Photo by tommaso79/iStockPhoto.com

Families can worry that confronting their loved one will cause a huge fight and ruin the holidays, but nothing ruins the holidays more than chasing around an addict or alcoholic and forcing them to “just get through it.” Also, Christmas is known for being a sober holiday. Alcohol is normally the social lubricant used by many to get through the office Christmas parties, family dinners, and gives them the ability to deal with Aunt Martha. For an addict or alcoholic, overindulging in alcohol or sneaking drinks so the family doesn’t find out can become the name of the game and lead to more harm than it’s worth.

Not confronting an addict or alcoholic before the holidays and waiting until after Christmas won’t go well. Instead of having the stereotypical Christmas with the family waking up early Christmas morning and opening presents around the tree, the real scene is often a bit darker and definitely not something the family wants, so here are 3 reasons not to wait until after the holidays to get your loved one help.

1. Ruining Future Holidays

If a family waits until after the holidays to confront their loved one’s addiction, they run the risk of ruining future holidays. If a family tries to wait and a loved one overdoses, gets in a drunk driving accident, or somehow succumbs to their addiction during this time of year, it forever taints the holiday season for the family. Each Christmas becomes a yearly reminder of a life lost that could have been prevented. It’s understood that this time of year is of crucial importance to many families, but why ruin it forever just to have a loved one there now? It seems a lot better to save their life now and know they’ll be there for every holiday from this point forward. Not confronting their addiction before Christmas can mean many happy Christmases in the future.

2. It’s Not Going to Be the Fun Holiday the Family Imagines

A lot of families believe, even if their loved on is addicted, that they can keep it together through the holidays and the whole family can enjoy Christmas with each other. This is unfortunately not the case. Instead of enjoying the holidays together, the family would be lucky if their addicted loved one even shows up at all. If they do show up, those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol have a way of creating drama and causing chaos as a result of their addiction. They may make an excuse that they need to go to the store to buy a pack of cigarettes and are gone for 4 hours trying to find heroin. Once they get back to the house and huge fight ensues. Or they get so drunk at the family Christmas dinner that it ruins it for everyone. Either way you look at it, not confronting your loved one’s addiction in order to have a fun Christmas will wind up being the furthest thing from fun.

Drinking alone
Photo by Zinkevych/Shutterstock.com                              

3. Don’t Put Off Help if They’re Willing

Believe it or not, sometimes a struggling loved one may be willing to get help before the Holidays, but the family would rather they wait until afterward. Going through addiction can be a highly emotionally-charged situation that can potentially lead families to make poor decisions. It may seem like a better idea to wait until after the holidays are over to get a loved one into treatment, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Since the holidays won’t be this amazing time for everyone if a family member is addicted, it’s better to get them into treatment as soon as possible, especially if they’re willing. It’s a huge step for an addict or alcoholic to be willing to get help because that also means they’ve admitted to the fact that they have a problem they can’t control. Sometimes this happens by way of a “moment of clarity” or the drugs ran out. Either way, a family needs to jump on that opportunity to get the person help. Unfortunately, these windows of willingness can close as quickly as they opened and if the chance to get a person into a treatment program isn’t immediately seized, that opportunity may not happen again for a while. The best advice for any family with a willing addict or alcoholic is to jump on the opportunity to get them into treatment and not to wait. Waiting until after the holidays can be the worst thing a family can do.

The holidays are supposed to be joyful and happy, so this holiday season, don’t wait to get a loved one help. If someone is struggling with addiction, the most loving thing a family can do is to get them the help they need and get them clean from drugs and alcohol. That’s the best present anyone could ask for.


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.