Recovery is something that must be carried on for all 365 days of the year with a one-day-at-a-time mentality. For a teenager who struggles with substance abuse, sometimes staying sober on the daily can be a tall order to fulfill, especially during the holiday season. After Thanksgiving, the feeling of a festive holiday spirit becomes unveiled along with the feelings of loss for those who have left this earth and cannot be celebrated with any longer. These aspects of the holidays can certainly become a slippery slope with a teen who needs to stay sober. With the holiday season being directed to kids of all ages, teens can very easily lose their way in sobriety when this time of the year comes into full swing. Rather than going to meetings and therapy which assists in keeping their recovery solid, almost inevitably, a teenager would much prefer to be with their friends doing the festivities that they deem as traditional. One problem that can become apparent in teens who are trying to stay sober is that they need to stay clear of friends who are still using and drinking particularly amongst the freedom of winter break. Peer pressure, whether intentional or unintentional, can become detrimental to their sobriety. On the other hand, not being allowed to hang out with certain friends can exacerbate the classic FOMO. The fear of missing out is a normal reaction that most teens develop when they are unable to attend parties and events that “everyone” else is. FOMO can lead a teen to sneak out or lie to remain a part of what they believe they should clearly be present for. With the holidays being such a special time of the year for so many, celebrating without loved ones who have abandoned the teen or passed away can also make the holiday a difficult time to try and cope. Instead of being able to remain sober, numbing the pain of misfortune and rejection through drugs and alcohol in lieu of feeling their feelings may seem like the easier, softer way. Relapse is common with a teen who may develop resentment for all the reasons that make them feel alone and different from others which in return can cause them to lose their sobriety in the blink of an eye. There are ways that can keep teens on the path of their recovery while still being able to celebrate the holidays and abstaining from drugs and alcohol at the same time. With parental guidance, a teenager can start new sober traditions that can carry on one-day-at-a-time while parents can learn a few hacks of their own to keep teens from wanting drugs and alcohol to make them feel jolly during the holidays.
Parents can abstain too.
If you are serving alcohol at your party, event, or dinner, you may need to think about the pressure you are putting on your teen’s sobriety with alcohol, or drugs, being so accessible. The question you need to ask yourself is whether it is more important to socially drink and use or if your teen needs you to be a good example? Being a good example for your teen is one of the best tools that a parent can exhibit for their kid. A person who is in recovery has the suggestion to remove themselves from a situation that makes them uncomfortable, but a teenager under your supervision may not have that choice. You can safeguard them by making decisions that will protect their sobriety at all costs.
Teens can host sober holiday get-togethers.
What better way to start new holiday traditions then for your teen to host their own sober event. By inviting the friends who are interested in having fun sans getting drunk or loaded, your teen can learn how to enjoy being sober. With a safe environment, a predetermined event, and friends who are supportive, hosting a sober function can set the precedent for their recovery to stay intact. Your teen can host a Christmas movie night, a game night, a caroling party, or even a white elephant gift party. Make sure to provide hot cocoa with marshmallows and a variety of cookies that will ensure some extra holiday delight.
Parents can help their teens by finding ways to distract to them.
Your teen may appear to be moping around since they have “nothing to do” although you probably have plenty for them to do during this busy holiday season. Put them to work by asking them to help you decorate the tree, put up the lights on the house, wrap presents, or assist you in the kitchen if you are having friends or family over. They may not want to because they are sure you will hassle them about what they have done wrong. This could be a great opportunity to be lighthearted and laugh without having to talk about their addiction or their past mistakes. Show them that you are supportive of them, want to have fun, and wish to celebrate the reason for the season by moving through the holidays with a clean slate.
Teens can be of service.
The holiday season is all about giving. With the essence of recovery being about service, your teen has a good opportunity to give back. Whether they give back to the community or their recovery groups, learning to give rather than receive can really help edify their self-worth. Keeping commitments at meetings, volunteering at a soup kitchen, or visiting a senior center to play games are all ways that help change a teen’s attitude to one of gratitude.
Parents can make this holiday season unforgettable
Doing something you have never done before should be on the agenda. Look at your local events and see if you can find a tree lighting, ride the Polar Express, attend a gingerbread house decorating workshop, or compete in an ugly sweater bowling contest. The sky’s the limit when it comes to family holiday fun which can also provoke the best memories. By knowing how the holidays can affect your teen’s recovery path and how to guide them through it, you have a good shot to help them stay on the course that will keep them sober. Your love and support are the best gift you can give your teen to renew your spirits this holiday season.
Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center is a comprehensive dual-diagnosis treatment facility that offers an array of services that range from fully supervised withdrawal management to residential treatment in hopes of gaining long-term sobriety and wellness. Adolescents learn about triggers and healthy replacements to regain a positive physical response to activities they can learn to enjoy again.
Call us today to start living in your recovery: 662-598-4214