Discussing Recovery During the Holidays

Discussing Recovery During the Holidays

The holidays can be a difficult time for everyone. But for those of us in recovery, the travel, stress, and scrutiny of our loved ones can make talking about our journey feel difficult–or even impossible. 

Even so, it’s a safe bet that the holidays will include several awkward situations. Discussing your recovery with family and friends can free us up to enjoy ourselves and better count our blessings.

In this blog, we offer several strategies and best practices for discussing your recovery during the holidays. 

Before You Talk About It

Conversations are dynamic and happen in real-time. There is no pause button for lengthy consideration, no mulligans for your choice of words or tone.

Preparing yourself for the best (and worst) cases, and outlining a strategy well beforehand can give you the advantage you need to make the process as therapeutic as possible.

Make Sure You’re Ready to Talk

Let’s make one thing abundantly clear: you are not required to talk about your recovery. In the early days, especially, talking about your journey can solicit strong and even shocking reactions from loved ones. 

If you’re in a deeply vulnerable place, discussing recovery may not be right just yet. On the other hand, if you find yourself at a point where divulging your recovery can unburden you and provide you with relief, then it may be best to start thinking up a plan.

Remember that you can decline a drink or party invitation without discussing your recovery.

Decide Who to Tell

Even if you’re feeling ready to discuss your recovery, it may be best to do so with a select group of loved ones rather than every last cousin, coworker, and friend. You might want to ask yourself several questions before deciding who to tell.

Who do you want most to tell? 

Who will be hardest to tell? 

Who genuinely needs to know right now?

Best of all: who can help you the most after learning about your journey? 

It may be tempting to talk to everyone you’ve hurt in the past, but explanations and apologies are separate entities and need not happen simultaneously.

So You’ve Decided to Talk About It

Now that you’ve asked yourself some foundational questions, it’s time to start thinking about the discussion itself.

Deciding What to Tell

The ins and outs, lows and highs of our exodus from addiction and our new adventure in recovery can be hard to parse for an outside audience. Not every detail deserves inclusion, and everything we might want to say needs to take a back seat to everything we need to say.

Before speaking to loved ones, consider what moments, details, and dates to include for both their understanding and your relief. A simple beginning, middle, and end should suffice at first with room for details and further explanation later. 

Preparing for Questions

In the midst of speaking with our family and friends, we may find that we’ve become representatives of addiction and educators on the recovery process. While this can be beneficial, it’s important to field only the questions you want to answer and leave the rest for another time.

Your decision to discuss this with loved ones is a personal decision. The reactions of our loved ones may be equally personal to them. More than anything, they may desire to know why you’re telling them, where they fit in, and (hopefully) how they can help.

Thinking of the best answer for several likely questions ahead of time can give you the confidence to return to the main talking point: you are recovering and recovery is most important.

Home for the Holidays

When you’re ready to talk about your recovery to loved ones, the most important piece of advice is to not allow fear and doubt to take the places of pride and hope–pride in your decision to recover and hope for the journey.

Some may take the news in stride while others strike out in unexpected ways. Try to refrain from a harsh reaction yourself, even if you understand the reactions of those you tell. It may take time to build relationships again, but like the discussion itself, repairing our bonds with loved ones is just part of the process. 

Learn More about discussing recovery at the 4th Dimension!

Just as addiction once crept into every part of your life, recovery must become a total and daily experience. Discussing difficult issues with your family and friends is always stressful, but with a little planning, some imaginary conversations, and no small pride for your recovery journey, you can clear the air and enjoy the holidays!  

For more discussion tips, or for questions about our program, please contact us.