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Enjoy Christmas With an Addict: Here’s How!

Published on 12. 22. 2015

The Christmas holidays are a time of family and friends, good cheer and great food. It’s a time that most of look forward to each year.


Unfortunately, an addiction in the family sings loud and clear without making a sound. Everyone around the holiday table is aware that “Uncle Steve” is a little too happy, and Cousin Evelyn is falling to sleep at the end of the table.

Enjoying the holiday festivities can be difficult when an addict shows up at the eggnog bowl, but there are things you can do to at least control the situation, if not eliminate it entirely.

Control the environment.

If you’re enjoying the holiday meal at the addict’s family home, you have to live by the rules of the house. That means you’re not in control.

If you have the holidays at your home, you have greater control over what’s going on – and who’s had a bit too much to drink before dinner.

Keep the holidays simple

Don’t let guests make their own drinks.

Take over the bartending chores to control just how much all your guests consume. Lighten the alcohol amount in the alcoholic’s drinks. In fact, pour less alcohol to everyone.

Don’t leave the liquor out in the open.

If the liquor bottles are lined up on the counter, it’s too easy for the alcohol-addicted person to freshen her drink. Know where the alcohol is and who’s drinking what.

Talk to the alcoholic or other substance abuser before the big day.

Don’t accuse, but don’t excuse, either. Calmly explain your objective to have a wonderful day the whole family enjoys.

An addict in denial may become angry at the suggestion that “I have an alcohol problem?!” and opt to spend the holidays elsewhere – with a more accepting host or hostess.

Of course this is sad, but would you rather have a belligerent, loud uncle at the table, or would you prefer that he stay away from the table altogether. Explain that, of course, the addict is invited to the holidays. However, you or your designated bartender will control consumption.

Keep the holidays simple.

First, don’t expect an addict to suddenly develop impulse control on Christmas morning. Expect possible problems and prepare for them.

Simplify everything from gift exchange to after-dinner clean-up. It doesn’t have to be fancy to be fun so make it easier on yourself – especially if you’re likely to get into the merlot a little early.

Have a Plan A, a Plan B, and even a Plan C.

If Cousin Tim is in his cups, hand him his coat and call a cab, or drive him home. The rules are simple.

1. Don’t indulge to excess.

2. Don’t ruin the holidays for other family members.

Plan how to handle uneasy scenarios ahead of time to prevent a small problem from ruining the holidays for everyone.

If a guest is in recovery, offer lots of fancy non-alcoholic drinks.

There are lots of recipes for tasty concoctions for the alcoholic in the early stages of recovery. Don’t just pour a can of diet soda in a glass. Even alcoholics enjoy celebrating Christmas so make the holiday special.

Test the atmosphere in the room.

A room of happy diners is a sign of a happy Christmas, and you aren’t the “fun police” so don’t take on that role.

However, if guests are uncomfortable (and you sense it) take control of the situation immediately. Send the offender to bed to “sleep it off” or send her home in a cab.

The best way to enjoy the holidays with an addict is good preparation, a clear understanding of expectations by all guests, and controlling the flow of alcohol and any other addictive substances.

No, you aren’t the fun police, but you are the host or hostess so control Christmas with careful planning and preparation.

A Very Merry Christmas from Hawaii Island Recovery

From all of your friends at Hawaii Island Recovery (HIR) we wish you a happy, joyous, sober and safe holiday this Christmas season.

If you are coping with an addict in the family, or if you’re the addict in the family, call Hawaii Island Recovery today to give the gift of sobriety to yourself and your loved ones – a gift they will thank you for throughout the year.

Merry Christmas to all from Hawaii Island Recovery on the beautiful Big Island of Hawaii.


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