It isn’t easy to be without loved ones during the holidays, but if you have a family member struggling with addiction, it may be the right time to send them to rehab. A residential treatment facility can provide a safe place to weather the storm that the holidays often are for people with addictions and mental health issues. Help your loved one see the benefits of going to treatment now, even though it means missing the holidays. Their healing now will allow them to enjoy the season in good health next year.
The holidays are traditionally a time for family and for being together. The idea of sending a loved one off to treatment for the duration of the season seems wrong. But consider their health and well-being. Are they at serious risk of relapsing during the holidays? Have they been trying to stop using but failing repeatedly?
If it would be better for your loved one’s wellness, health, and future, ask them to give up the holidays to go to rehab. Residential treatment for substance use disorders can be effective, and this time of year is a good time to go for many reasons.
The Benefits of Rehab During the Holidays
While it may seem cruel or unfair to send someone off to rehab during the holiday season, there are a lot of good reasons that this is an ideal time for treatment:
- The holidays are full of triggers. Drinking and drug use relapses both jump during the holidays. One reason is the abundance of triggers: stress, strained relationships, difficult relatives, parties, seeing old friends, being around alcohol, and more. Addiction is complicated. In some ways it is a learning process in the brain. The brain has learned to associate substance use with certain people, situations, and feelings. These triggers abound during the holidays, but residential rehab offers relief from them. It could prevent a relapse in your loved one.
- Mental health issues also increase over the holidays. Holiday stress, anxiety, and depression are real phenomena. Mental illness often goes hand-in-hand with substance use disorders. For someone struggling with both, the holidays can be a double blow. Worsening depression, for instance, can make it more likely they will relapse. Rehab can prevent it by addressing both issues.
- Rehab is a safe place to ride out the holidays. With so many triggers and the possibility of complicating mental health symptoms, a safe place to get through it is ideal for your loved one. It’s so much more than just a place to hunker down, though. Your loved one will get the safe environment, free from temptation and triggers, but also healing treatment. They’ll come out on the other side ready for a fresh start next year.
- Long-term treatment is best for substance use disorders. Research confirms that the most effective way to achieve recovery and minimize relapse risk is to stay in treatment for at least three months. Rehab can provide this long-term care that sets your loved one up for true recovery after the holidays. A few meetings during the holidays may just not be enough to avoid relapse.
Convincing a Loved One to Go to Rehab for the Holidays
No matter how sure you and your family are of the benefits of rehab, the loved one in question may be tougher to convince. Take these steps to talk to them about the possibility and to push your loved one to get the treatment the need now:
- Stop enabling. The first step in getting someone the help they need is to take a good look at your own behaviors. Enabling looks and feels a lot like love and care, but it is detrimental. Consider any ways in which you shield your loved one from the negative consequences of their substance abuse and change them.
- Talk about it the right way. Find a time to talk to your loved one when they are sober. Come prepared with the points you want to make and focus on your concerns for them. Remain calm as you talk and avoid getting angry at them, being judgmental or accusatory, or trying to use guilt or shame to get them into treatment. These tactics are likely to increase resentment and any stubborn unwillingness to get help.
- Offer solutions to roadblocks. Someone in denial about needing treatment is very good at coming up with reasons they cannot go: work, not enough money, children at home, and so on. Be prepared to offer solutions, such as financial support, child or pet care, and house sitting.
- Have a plan for including them in the holidays. Missing out on the holidays may be a big reason your loved one doesn’t want to go to rehab. Offer them a way to still be involved in family celebrations. Talk to the treatment facility to see what’s possible. You may be able to visit for family days or get your loved one on a video call during Christmas dinner. Send care packages, gifts, and cards to help them celebrate and feel a part of the holidays. You may even want to plan a family gathering for after the holidays to celebrate with them.
- Hold an intervention. If your efforts fail, consider holding an intervention with a professional. This is a gathering that includes multiple friends and family to convince someone to get the help they need. Everyone prepares statements to read to the subject of the intervention. Typically, there are also consequences for not agreeing to treatment, such as loss of financial support.
Can You, and Should You, Force a Loved One into Treatment?
If your family member struggling with addiction is an adult, you cannot force them to go to rehab without involving the criminal justice system or taking some type of legal action. This should only be a last resort. However, it can result in effective treatment.
Studies have shown that people legally pressured into treatment for substance use disorders have outcomes as good as or even better than those who go willingly. Only you and your family can decide if pushing a loved one into treatment is best for them.
Finding the Right Treatment Facility
Once you have talked your loved one into treatment over the holidays, you have to find the right residential facility for them. Consider practical factors like cost and location, but also make sure your loved one is able to visit and feels comfortable there before committing. Look for a facility that offers everything they need to get better:
- A comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis at intake
- A staff with expertise in several areas of care
- Individualized treatment plans
- Treatment for both mental illness and substance use disorder
- Medical care
- Evidence-based treatments
- A variety of therapy types
- Opportunities for family involvement
- Alternative and creative therapies
- A supportive community environment
- An aftercare program and relapse prevention
Sending a loved one away during the holiday is never going to be easy. But go easy on yourself—you are doing it because you love them, and they need help. Give your loved one every opportunity to be around to celebrate next year, which means getting them treatment now.