Holiday Family Coping Strategies: Know How & When to Draw The Line

The Holidays are HERE and when families get together there is joy and struggle. We want things to be perfect, loving, happy. But, sometimes old buttons get pushed, painful patterns of communication come to the surface, again, and feelings get triggered that lead to the "excuse" to cope by drinking or using another substance. There's an old saying that our parents install our emotional buttons and our children and close loved ones push them. I think of emotional buttons that get pushed as opportunities for healing. Yeah.

For those of you struggling with family members that are actively using, I understand the pain, difficulty and need to have very clear boundaries. Our family just this last weekend had someone that had been relapsing with pain medication finally make the decision to go into treatment. But not until his wife realized the extent of his using and drew the line - "Either you go to treatment or you can't live here anymore." That's a tough line to draw, but sometimes a necessary one. She had lots of loving family support to make that tough decision.  For more tips on coping with stress and addiction FREE Mp3 download of Intentional JOY: How to Turn Stress, Fear & Addiction into Freedom. Includes 20 minute overview of book & Stress Busting Guided Practices.

Take care of yourself during the Holidays. Have a plan for how you'll cope with potential challenging situations and enjoy your family and friends as much as possible!!

Here are some suggestions:

What do you do if you have a family member that's drinking or using drugs hat you'll be around during the Holidays?

1) Make a decision whether you wish to attend - Though others may not like your decision, it's ok and no explanations necessary. Or, you can say something like:  "I'm sorry, but I'm just not comfortable being around drinking or other use."  

2) If you attend, have an out for yourself. You don't have to announce this, but just know that if you become too uncomfortable, you'll neutrally excuse yourself and leave.  "Thank you for having me and it's time for me to go home now."  

The Holidays are a great time to practice what in Alanon is called "Detaching with Love." Detaching with Love means detaching emotionally from the problem, and perhaps from the situation, but not to stop caring about and loving the person that is caught up in their addictive use. I was able to use this concept, over time, with lots of practice successfully with my sweet sister, Lane. (She passed away May 2013).