It’s here. A difficult time of the year—New Year’s Eve—for recovering addicts and their loved ones. Between the late night and non-stop partying, there is probably no night more difficult for recovering addicts than December 31st.
How can you help your loved ones, recovering from their addiction, survive their first New Year’s Eve?
Make Love a Requirement
Every choice you make for and with your loved ones during the holidays should be guided by a spirit of true love.
Love is being sensitive to their triggers. And since no two people are alike, love will probably look different for each person. Some people will experience more triggers in a small group or by themselves. Others will experience more triggers when participating in a night of non-stop, big-group partying.
Sometimes love will mean giving up a party you wanted to attend. Sometimes love will mean being someone’s buddy all night. Sometimes love means throwing your own party.
Love also means doing everything possible to keep the attitude and atmosphere in your home relaxing and warm by avoiding tricky topics and land-mine conversations. This is not the time to discuss financial or martial difficulties.
If you’re committed to your loved ones and truly want what is best for them, every choice you make—from where you go and how long you stay to what topics you talk about—will be guided by a thoughtful and loving spirit for their comfort and well-being.
Plan to Have a Plan
Spend some time surveying your options and coming up with creative alternatives for the evening. Your plan might simply be to stay at home with close friends, play board games, and watch the ball drop, or it might include attending a concert at the Kennedy Center before visiting Times Square—but make a plan.
Some families plan to do something completely different than what they normally do on New Year’s Eve—just to change up the typical schedule. Perhaps, they’ll visit a new city or rent a cabin in the woods where they have fewer close friends or families with social responsibilities. After all, it’s often easier to turn down a party invite if you’re not in town.
If this is your loved one’s first New Year’s in recovery, keep the party list as lean as possible. Parties for which you need to make an appearance—such as a company party or relative gathering—do just that—make an appearance. Plan to come late and leave early. If possible, try to find out what food and drinks will be served. If you and your loved one know you’ll need to attend a party for a little bit where drinks will be regularly offered, try some role-playing scenarios out before.
Include Your Recovering Addict in the Decision-Making Process
Whatever you decide, though, make sure you design your plan with feedback and input from your loved ones. If you make all the decisions yourself, they will feel cut out of the decision-making process and they need to be a part of the decisions. Take time to sit down together, survey the options, and agree on a plan.
Be Flexible: Build Extra Time in the Schedule and Have a Backup Plan
No matter what you decide to do, build a little extra time into the schedule. Even if you’ve both made a plan before New Year’s Eve, things change that day and that night.
People’s interests and desires and fears can change momentarily. You will probably need time to catch your breath, have a conversation with your loved one and consistently make choices that show your loved one you really do care about them. You also might need to be flexible and change your plan at a moment’s notice. So take some time early on, to plan a back-up plan in case situations get difficult.
Celebrate a Truly New Beginning
In many ways, this can be the most exciting time of the year for you and your loved one—after all, they are heading into a new year sober and poised to pursue interests, hobbies and friendships with new energy.
So sometime in the evening, take some time to thank your loved one for their hard work in recovering. Maybe write them a card or give them a small gift. But let them know how much their recovery means to you and your relationship together.
In many ways, you and your loved one have a more meaningful reason to truly celebrate the new year than others do. Enjoy it.