Holidazed – Addiction & Holiday Season
I was driving in my hometown last evening viewing the Jack-0-Lanterns and other Halloween decorations that adorn my middle class neighborhood this time of year. The “season of holidays” is officially upon us, and over time, I had learned that active addiction uses our “love for the holidays” to sustain itself.
My affiliations with different support groups showed me that the holiday season can present a very tough time for many families. As parents, we long for the days when our children woke up to the smell of roasted turkey, and the sounds of Gene Autry singing “Rudolph” on the phonograph. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other holidays tend to cause emotional strife when our children are actively using their drugs of choice. Parents that are new to the issue of addiction in their families, get caught up in the common mistake of trying to make things “nice” for the holiday. There are no niceties tied to drug addiction!
I recall taking my children to their Grandmother’s home for an Easter dinner in the midst of my son’s active addiction. The dinner proceeded with the normal family interactions, both good and bad, that occur in all families. Small talk and glazed ham were supposed to be the centerpieces of that day. My son excused himself from the table and disappeared to the bathroom. Upon his return, he began to nod off, symptomatic of heroin addiction. My son was high once again. I was both enraged and embarrassed and began yelling at him. At that time I had not learned yelling at an addict never “cures” the disease. My mother defended her favorite grandson and told me my heroin addicted child was fine and was simply “tired”. My rage was suddenly unleashed upon her, “How dare she defend my son’s inexcusable behavior! ” Addiction and its associated collateral damage are truly a family phenomenon that will spare no member. His sister was upset and the tranquility of a traditional holiday was completely shattered by his drug use that day. The day fell victim to the chaos that is partnered with all addictions. We left the dinner with yet another lesson learned, drug addiction simply does not give a shit about turkey, pumpkins, or mistletoe.
Even parents experienced in recovery, long for the old days, the simpler times, before addiction turned their families upside down. Many still get caught in the emotional trap set for us by our addiction adversary. Through trial and error I learned the disease, as always, has one purpose; to sustain. Its sustenance will come at any cost. The holiday date marked on your pretty calendar means nothing, life has changed, and we are in a war that must be continually fought 365 days a year. There exists no ‘holiday break” for the war against addiction. Each and every day your child’s disease will scream “Feed me and feed me now!”. Your child, if still using, will heed that call.
To a child or loved one that is actively using, the holiday simply becomes a potential opening to manipulate their family. “I can guilt my parents that day and perhaps silence the calling for a few hours.” is the unspoken truth. Using the current surroundings or event is what an addict will do best to feed the addiction.
Many children, sent away from home for recovery purposes, try to coerce parents into letting them into the home for the spirit of the “holiday season”. Once back home, the drama that rides side-saddle with addiction, will quickly expose itself. It has been stated in many forums, “Addicts don’t maintain relationships, they take hostages”. Over and over, I have watched this addiction element play out to be nothing more than the disease using the premise of the holiday to continue its voracious self feeding mode.
Parents often try to love their child out drug use by showering them with holiday gifts. Extravagant gifts will not “cure” your addicted child. That expensive gift will potentially be sold on the street, and fed to the addiction through a straw up their nose, or needle in their arm. The gift is merely a Band-Aid attempt by a parent in denial at making everything seem “nice”. I was that parent. We must avoid covering the addiction up and deal with the issues at hand. Parents must continue to move on their journey, one day at time, regardless of the holiday event surrounding our life.
Making a significant change to holiday traditions is very difficult for parents in recovery. Do not waver on the progress you have made with your child because of the holidays. If your son or daughter is sitting in a jail cell or recovery home during the holiday, that is acceptable. Their time spent in forced recovery is an investment to a healthier future holiday. If you stay strong with your loved one’s recovery, the potential for future healthy, more traditional holiday gatherings is there.
Categorised as: Journal Entries