Drug Addiction and the Holidays

The holidays are a season of cheer for many, but pose challenges to those struggling with addiction.

That’s why Symetria Health, which runs Soft Landing Recovery addiction treatment centers, hosted a forum on the difficulties this season brings to the addicted.

“There’s three things we want everyone to know in our community that we serve here in Naperville,” said Chris Hassan, CEO of Symetria Health. “First is that the holidays can have triggers for people. Two, there’s help that can be accessed, and three, if they feel they need to have an intervention, they probably do.”

The forum featured actress and author Mackenzie Phillips, recovery advocate and founder of the #VoicesProject Ryan Hampton, and author and interventionist Brad Lamm, all former addicts in successful long-term recovery who now work to help others get better.

According to them, the family interaction that occurs around holidays can create a lot of stress for addicts.

“People have expectations of you to be a certain way, and that’s really stressful,” said Phillips. “So you’re preparing to get in the car or on the bus to go over to the house and it’s like ‘I need something to be able to go in there, I can’t go in there clean, those people make me feel crazy.’”

But things don’t have to be hopeless. If you see a loved one struggling, this might be a chance to reach out.

“I love the holidays just as a wake up call,” said Lamm. “Because if someone is struggling during the holidays they’re struggling all year round and it’s a great idea to say ‘I see you’re struggling, let’s talk about it, we’re a family and that’s what we can do.’”

The panel also discussed alternatives to family celebrations.

For people in the early stages of recovery, celebrating the holidays with friends, rather than family, might be a good choice.

“They just know there’s going be friction at home that could take a toll on their sobriety, so they make the conscious decision, ‘this holiday, I’m going to spend it with my recovery people.’ I’ve done it, it’s a great, viable option,” said Hampton.

The panel also stressed the importance of persistence. Even if a loved one has said no to getting help before, it can still become a yes.

The full forum can be seen on Soft Landing Recovery’s Facebook page.

Naperville News 17’s Blane Erwin reports.

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