Staying sober around family can be challenging, to say the least. Not everyone has the same familial love that others do. For some, the families we make are more important that the families we’re born into. Nonetheless, there are times when for whatever reason, we may feel compelled to spend time with family. Very annoying members of our family of origin can try hard to push our buttons. They know those buttons like few others can.
Working Our Program And Staying Sober Around Family
I really don’t mean to paint everyone’s family of origin as disastrously dysfunctional. Many great families still have addiction problems arise. People in very stable, loving homes can develop serious addiction problems early in life. Family does not always contribute a large share to the roots of a person’s addiction. However, some families of origin are indeed disastrous. Some aren’t quite as bad; they just aren’t supportive of a person’s recovery. Some families have a culture of drinking or a culture of excess. Others have a big tendency to keep secrets and confuse secret keeping with privacy.
These different kinds of dysfunctionality allow addiction to persist and make recovery more difficult. During the holiday season, we may feel an especially powerful pull to visit with family members whom we love, but who aren’t good for recovery. You must decide for yourself if your recovery is strong enough to permit you to be around those folks. Your recovery must be your number one priority. Having the approval of one’s parents doesn’t mean much if to get that approval you have to demonstrate you can “handle your booze” or you have to pretend that you don’t have a significant problem with addictive substances.
Keep your program going even if you’re going far out of town. Look for meetings in the area where you’ll be staying. Make sure you’ve got the number of your sponsor or your safe anchors so you can make a call if you need support. That’s what sponsors and anchors do. No one in recovery is a stranger to the family issue. The first few holiday cycles are the hardest, and getting support from other recovering people is priority two.
Finally, you can keep working your program on your own if your stay is for a few days to a week or so. When someone pushes a drink or drug in your hand, decline politely. Of course, if it were that easy to decline no one would dread the holidays. Many times it’s not the urge to use that gets bumped up; it’s the friction with family members who deny that you have a problem. This happens a lot with extended family problems. I remember my own extended family telling me to my face I wasn’t an alcoholic because I was in a tough grad program, making good grades and working. The concept of high functioning alcoholic was something they couldn’t–and never did–get their minds wrapped around.
Your job is not to make your family, or anyone, understand addiction. You don’t have to defend yourself or your decision to get clean. Your job is to stay clean.