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Supporting an Addicted Loved One Over the Holidays

By December 16, 2018 June 15th, 2023 No Comments
A woman puts her head on someone's shoulder.

As we have discussed in our previous blogs, the holiday season can be difficult for people coping with addiction. Difficult family situations, triggering social events, hectic schedules and financial pressures can all contribute to challenging situations. Our most recent blog discussed the signs that a loved one may be struggling with addiction. In this blog, we discuss some of the ways you can offer your support to an addicted person.

Offering Support

Simply letting someone know that your support is available can go a long way to alleviating any anxieties or feelings of isolation that they may have. If you have not previously discussed their possible addiction issues, it is best to raise them as tactfully as possible in a calm environment. It is also important to make clear that you are not judging or criticizing them but are speaking out of concern.

Once you have raised the subject, you can assure them that you would be glad to offer support. You should also listen carefully and compassionately to anything they have to say. You can tell them that you are always willing to listen to any concerns or frustrations that they may have. Expressing these kinds of feelings to an understanding listener can be of great help to someone who is struggling. Addiction usually affects not only the addicted person, but those close to them. The support of those people can also be a crucial part of recovery.


If your friend or family member has not disclosed to others that they are coping with addiction, you should be very discreet in raising the issue. You should avoid mentioning it to others unless the person has explicitly asked you to do so. It is possible to damage relationship the relationship between you or to cause them more problems when trying to help. Approach the issue carefully and compassionately.

Concurrent Disorders

If the person is also dealing with concurrent mental health disorders alongside their addiction problems, you should bear this in mind when offering your support. They may also be coping with depression or anxiety, for example. These conditions may be exacerbated by their addiction problems and may affect the way that you should engage with them.

If you are concerned about how to address a loved one’s addiction problems, consider contacting an addiction treatment professional for guidance. The following are some practical, compassionate methods for offering support to an addicted loved one over the holiday season.

Make Plans

If you have discussed the concerns and potential problems the addicted person may encounter over the holiday season, you can also offer to help make plans for how to deal with them. A strategy for navigating social events that may involve triggering scenarios or difficult interactions can support recovery over the holidays. Encouraging the person to anticipate the kind of problems they may encounter and to consider how to deal with them could really help them.

You could also offer to help identify local meetings or other forms of support that might be of use. If the person is open to the idea, you could also offer to accompany them if this is possible. It is important not to be intrusive. You should only make these kinds of suggestions if you have already established that the person is comfortable discussing their addiction problems with you.

Tactful Intervention

Offering to tactfully intervene in situations where someone is behaving in an enabling way or pressuring the person to drink or use substances could also help them deal with these difficult situations. In these scenarios, you can ask the person for help with something elsewhere or change the topic of conversation. You can also consider other ways to help your friend or family member remain occupied in potentially triggering scenarios. Simply being present and supportive for them can be of great assistance.

Alternative Socialising

Over the holidays, many social events and family gatherings are centred around alcohol. At some events, other addictive substances may also be present. This can make the season very complicated for someone who is in recovery or struggling with addiction. While it might be triggering for them to attend these events, avoiding them may leave them feeling alienated or resentful. Offering to socialise in an alternative environment can help with this. Going for a walk instead of gathering in a bar, for example, allows the person to feel involved and sociable while avoiding triggering scenarios. You could also offer not to drink or use substances alongside your loved one to help them feel more comfortable.


Someone in the early stages of recovery may still be learning how best to address their addiction problems with others. If you are close with them and have established that they are comfortable speaking about their problems with you, you may be able to help them with this difficult process. They may have disclosed to others that they are in recovery but do not feel comfortable going into more detail. In this case, you can ask others discreetly to avoid engaging in enabling or otherwise unhelpful behaviour could help to ease some of the burden on the addicted person.

Alternative Gift Giving

For someone coping with addiction, the financial pressures of the holiday season may exacerbate their problems. The accumulated cost of travel, gifts and social events can be very high. If they have not had regular work or have been damaged financially by their addiction, they may struggle to meet these costs. This can result in anxiety or feelings of inadequacy or resentment which may make them more likely to relapse. Suggesting alternative gift-giving systems in family or social groups might ease some of this pressure. For example, some families choose to organize for each person to give and receive one gift, rather than everyone buying for everyone.


It is important to practice self-care over the holiday season, and this is particularly true for people coping with addiction. Making efforts to eat healthily, get enough rest and exercise can help in dealing with the challenges of the period. If you are discussing an addicted family member or friend’s concerns about the holidays with them, suggesting that they make sure to factor in this aspect of their recovery might be worthwhile. Structuring their time in such a way as to ensure that they have enough time to look after their mental and physical health could make the season more straightforward. You could also offer to join them in a particular exercise or diet if this would make help them.

The Bottom Line

Many people are eager to help an addicted loved one in whatever way they can. However, it can be difficult to know how to approach the issue. Some of the options discussed might allow you to provide crucial support for a loved one over the holiday season. If you would like more information on supporting an addicted loved one, contact Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres.

Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres

Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centres

We offer residential and outpatient rehab treatment programs for addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders.

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