SURVIVE CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR
HELP PEOPLE IN EARLY RECOVERY
Christmas and new year, plus the few weeks immediately after when people can feel complacent, are the riskiest times of the year for relapse back to alcohol/drugs. Preparations must start in November to avoid a crisis and instead build a template for future healthy, happy christmases. Deirdre Boyd brings advice from established experts in addiction recovery.
This page offers top tips from Hebron Trust, which specialises in addiction-recovery treatment for women.
Click to read more top recovery tips from:
+ Kirby Gregory of Action on Addiction (patron: the Duchess of Cambridge)
+ Mike Delaney of Bayberry Clinic, which also treats impaired professionals
+ Tessa Corner of StreetScene, who highights multicultural activities
+ Mount Carmel in London which offers aftercare for life
+ Castle Craig Hospital in Scotland and the Netherlands.
Print-friendly advice from all 7 rehabs:
Download AddictionToday139 – Survive christmas
“Christmas can be a difficult time to be in treatment. Women might be separated from children and families and this can create overwhelming feelings of guilt or loss,” explains Mo Dunn, CEO of Hebron Trust.
We are a small community of women and each year the client group is made up differently – but we have developed a strategy to set up ‘building blocks’ for future christmases.
+ In the lead up to christmas, counsellors begin to identify the personal issues their clients might experience at this time of year. Group work is then facilitated in which women are encouraged to voice their personal responses to being in treatment at christmas.
+ “We will then deliver a programme which attempts to meet the needs of the current client group. It may be that for some decorating the house for christmas is both desirable and therapeutic, whereas for others it could induce painful reminders of past events. We as a community will come to a compromise, such as the length of time decorations are displayed and who might be involved in the process. Our aim is for staff to be sensitive to the residents’ needs and for residents to be sensitive to each other.
+ “Structure and routine are fundamental in Hebron’s programme as both contribute to a safe and comfortable environment. For us, the daily programme will continue with some exceptions to allow for seasonal celebration. So groups run as normal but the content can vary to be relevant to the time of year.
+ “The Trust provides opportunities for women to attend special outing events such as pantomimes or church services should they choose to. Some women choose to pursue their own ideas for celebrating christmas; they might want to be involved in special art work or other creativity and this is encouraged. One year, several women raised money for charity by carol singing at a local shopping centre.
+ “Christmas day itself is celebrated with a traditional dinner cooked by staff for the residents. Gifts are given to all. The overall atmosphere is one of a low key ‘family’ celebration where staff work to ensure that individual needs are met for each individual’s response to christmas. The day is staffed by regular day staff equipped to deal with any emotional crisis which might arise.
+ “Between christmas and New Year, it is important that the programme continues to run as normal. This provides stability and familiar routine with groups that focus on new beginnings and the hope of sustained recovery in the future. We celebrate New Year’s eve by providing an opportunity to see the New Year in together.”