Going to treatment isn’t the kind of thing you schedule; to ensure a successful attempt at recovery, putting off going to rehabilitation until a more convenient time isn’t generally advised. As such, this can result in many individuals with substance use disorders spending time in treatment over the holidays.
As with things like school and most office jobs, it’s not uncommon for individuals in rehabilitation to expect a reprieve during the holidays. However, this is not usually how rehab works. Most programs do not provide a chance to go home for Christmas or to attend important religious services or family gatherings. There are no breaks or vacations in rehabilitation; inpatient programs are designed to provide a fresh start, and it’s hard to see progress if your stay is interrupted by a visit to a potentially triggering atmosphere.
For many people, this can be deeply distressing, creating anxiety and sadness over missing beloved traditions. It’s common to feel as though you’re letting family or yourself down. It’s also common to want to quit rehabilitation and return at a better time, but this is not rational. Making healthy choices is something both you and your loved ones should be proud of, regardless of when you make the decision to get help. Further, most rehabilitation centers including FHE Health, devote plenty of energy into ensuring holidays feel fun and festive so that participants don’t miss out.
Here’s what to expect if you or a loved one is in treatment over the holidays.
Decorations and Holiday Cheer
Spending the holiday away from home and your family may seem a little depressing at first, but this doesn’t mean that your Christmas or seasonal traditions will fall completely by the wayside. Rehabs aren’t completely joyless; most inpatient centers decorate for the holidays, creating a festive atmosphere for those living there. No one wants the holiday season to go by unnoticed, and that includes the doctors, nurses and other staff members who spend their days and nights supporting those in recovery.
It’s not uncommon to see decorations like tinsel, garlands, hanging baubles, lights, a menorah over Hanukkah and even a fully adorned Christmas tree. Residents who want to keep the cheer going are encouraged to decorate their own rooms with holiday flair, including mini trees, ornaments, and even stockings.
Cards, Presents, and Crafts
Cards and presents frequently play a large role in the holiday season, and rehab is no exception. Contrary to public perception, going to rehabilitation doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy communication and the joy of giving. Participants in a rehab program will receive a temporary address to which cards and gifts can be sent and from which they can send gifts and cards themselves.
Crafting is a big part of therapy in rehabilitation, which provides the opportunity for those in treatment to make cards and gifts to send to those they love. Baking may also be a part of some rehab programs, giving residents the chance to bake and decorate Christmas cookies to enjoy with one another.
A Christmas Party
Christmas parties aren’t just for people living on the outside; many treatment centers will host holiday parties to help those spending the winter season in rehabilitation to celebrate. While there won’t be any spiked eggnog at treatment center gatherings, these Christmas parties can still be plenty of fun.
Rehabilitation holiday parties tend to involve many of the same activities as any other party, including movie marathons, games and holiday TV specials. If you have made friends in rehabilitation, it’s possible to get together in small groups, too, to enjoy holiday movies, cookies or treats with others who understand where you are in life.
Visits from Family
Just because going home is discouraged doesn’t mean that your family can’t come to you. FHE Health does allow visits from family and may make special allowances for those who have not yet received visitation privileges. During visitation, family and friends can witness progress firsthand in a way that doesn’t increase the risk of relapse.
Christmas visits can be a great way to facilitate mental health during what can be a stressful time of year. Even just a few hours with loved ones can raise spirits considerably, providing a little extra strength and enthusiasm to commit to succeeding in recovery.
The Best Gift of All
Sobriety is the best gift of all for substance abusers struggling with a use disorder. Spending time in rehabilitation is a gift to yourself, and it’s more important than any holiday celebration you could ever experience.
Every day spent in rehabilitation is another opportunity to facilitate wellness, and there should be no shame in this occurring over the holiday season.
Tips for Spending Christmas in Rehabilitation
Spending time in rehabilitation over the holidays can be stressful, but making it through to the other side will be well worth the effort. These tips can help those in rehab to stay strong while missing Christmas or other holiday celebrations with loved ones.
- Resist the urge to leave. Going home is a natural desire, but staying in treatment is the best thing you can do for yourself.
- Stay focused. Your time in rehab isn’t just something you should be phoning in. Your presence is deeply important, and the more you gain from your time in inpatient care, the more prepared you will be for the next steps.
- Find joy in the little things. Rehabilitation isn’t easy, but it’s important to find the good in as many moments as you can. By enjoying the little things, like decorating a tree with others in recovery or baking Christmas cookies, you can find something to love about the holiday season.
- Plan for future holidays. Rehabilitation doesn’t last forever. When you have made it through treatment, you’ll be able to go home and enjoy more holidays with your family. Staying focused on your goals after treatment can help you make smart choices now.
- Build new bonds. Your family members and friends at home are wonderful, but it’s important to appreciate where you are in your life now. Instead of shutting yourself off from the others in your treatment program, create connections where you can and learn to embrace the process you’re going through.
- Be thankful for your progress. Even the smallest steps matter and all of the successes you achieve are worth celebrating.
Rehabilitation is never easy, no matter when you enter a program. There’s always a life on the outside you are going to miss, and this is an issue that must be addressed over the course of treatment. With tips for surviving the holidays and the measures rehabilitation centers take to preserve some of the spirit of the season, it’s possible to still enjoy Christmas, Hanukkah or your chosen winter celebration as you work through the process of recovery.
If you or someone you love is facing entrance into a rehabilitation center during the holidays, FHE Health is here to provide support and celebration during this challenging time. Please contact FHE today to learn more about our intake process and how we support those who take their first steps to sobriety with us.