Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC for Addiction Hope
The holiday season is often a time for gathering with family and friends, sharing memories and celebrations and reconnecting with others who we may not see on a regular basis.
Holiday gatherings can be challenging at times as individuals from many different backgrounds join together in a condensed space and time.
Seeing relatives or friends that you may not be particularly close with can also make for interesting functions.
The Elephant in the Room
What about individuals who are clearly dealing with substance abuse or an addiction to drugs or alcohol? Whether this person is a family member or friend, an addiction that is left unaddressed can quickly become the “elephant in the room”.
If an addict is actively under the influence of drugs or alcohol, their behavior, mood and personality will be significantly altered. Behavior changes can quickly influence the manner in which a person interacts with others, putting a strain on relationships and gatherings all together.
The Common Response: Isolation
When a person is visibly acting out of character due to their addiction, it can be difficult to overlook the mishap that may unfold as a result of this. Social situations can become awkward and uncomfortable, especially during gatherings that bring together many different family members and friends.
The easiest solution may be to ignore or isolate the individual at gatherings that is struggling with an addiction, but is this effective for any person involved?
The Effective Response: Compassion
Extending compassion towards someone who is struggling with addiction may not be the initial response, but perhaps this is the attitude to have towards loved ones who are pressed with this burden.
A person is not their addiction, and addictions are much more complex that what meets the eye. It can easy to quickly cast judgments on someone we observe struggling, even without knowing their history or past that has led them to their current place in life.
The next time you find yourself in this challenging situation, remind yourself that addictions are much more than meets the eye. Underneath the exterior of what you can see is a person who is deeply suffering and who is also worthy of love and life.
Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!
What is your approach to handling family member or friends at gatherings who may be struggling with an addiction?
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on December 22nd, 2014
Published on AddictionHope.com