An Addict’s Life Is More Important than the Holidays
Working in drug and alcohol treatment, each year it becomes my duty to remind families that the upcoming holidays are NOT an excuse for an addict not to go to treatment and seek help. It becomes the easiest cop-out imaginable. With Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner, the addict—and yes—even their families, can use this time of year to justify not confronting the fact that a loved one has an addiction that desperately needs to be handled.
When talking to families, they sometimes say:
“I know he needs help, but I really need him here with his family.”
“We’ll handle it after the holidays, I don’t want to explain why she’s not here.”
“This may be grandma’s last Christmas with us.”
When talking to addicts, they sometimes say:
“I really need to be there with my family.”
“I’ve wasted too much time; I’ll go after Christmas.”
After years of experience with this, I can assure any family that the mental image you have of this perfect holiday season with your addict at home will wind up being anything but perfect.
Some families think that, despite having a heroin or methamphetamine addiction, on Christmas morning the addict and the rest of the family will gather around the tree and open gifts and enjoy time together. Instead, it’s more likely that on Christmas morning the family will gather around the tree to find all the gifts gone and the addict overdosed in their bed with a pawn receipt on the floor. Or, the addict isn’t present at all. They step out, saying they have to go buy cigarettes or make up some other excuse to leave the house and go meet their dealer. They wait hours for them to show up and finally the addict comes home high and doesn’t spend any time with the family. I know it sounds heartless, but it’s an unfortunate reality. No family is going to have a good time during the holidays with an addict around. You’re not going to have these perfect family gatherings by keeping your addict out of treatment. It’s just not real.
I would hate for the fatal overdose of a loved one to forever taint the holiday season for their families. If someone loses their life due to their drug issue during the holidays, it then becomes a yearly reminder of a life that was lost. They can no longer spend time with their families during Thanksgiving dinner and they won’t be there to open gifts on Christmas morning. The very time of year the addict and their family wanted to enjoy before going to rehab becomes the saddest days of the year forever after.
Take my advice and don’t use this time of year to justify not confronting or dealing with the fact that you or a loved one needs help. If they get clean, there can be many, many more Thanksgivings and Christmases with each other and the season can actually be enjoyed.