Tips For Enjoying Happy, Sober Holidays, 1216 CABARJ, CBJ — December 2016 #03

Tips for enjoying happy, sober holidays

No. 2016 #03

California Bar Journal

December, 2016


Editor's note: This article was originally published by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation in November 2015 and is reprinted here with permission. A recent survey by the foundation and the American Bar Association indicates that as many as one out of every three lawyers is a problem drinker. The State Bar of California’s Lawyer Assistance Program can help. Call 877-LAP-4HELP (877-527-4435) or email

"Stressful.” “Weird.” “Dangerous.”

These are unusual adjectives to describe what traditionally is known as the most festive of seasons. But to millions of people in recovery from addiction to alcohol or other drugs, holiday stress can trigger relapse. And families and friends often face the anxiety of dealing with an intoxicated loved one during holiday get-togethers or with the uncertainty of how to act around someone in treatment and recovery.

"For many, the holidays are not a joyous time of the year, but rather a season filled with loneliness, anxiety, self-doubt and unachievable expectations that can result in serious consequences for individuals and families struggling with addiction issues," says Dr. Joseph Lee, medical director of the Youth Continuum at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation in Plymouth, Minnesota. “Cross-generational family gatherings – those gatherings that happen often during the holiday season – are opportune times to help loved ones struggling with addiction and to support family members who are in recovery."

Holiday tips for all families

Model desired behavior at holiday parties. Surveys continue to confirm that the majority of youth view their parents as their primary role models on issues of using alcohol or other drugs. Holiday family gatherings are an ideal venue in which parents and grandparents can demonstrate the responsible use of alcohol to younger generations.

Share your stories. Personal stories can be enormously powerful in changing lives. These surveys also indicate that hearing their parents' stories about past alcohol or drug use does make a positive difference and can help them make more responsible decisions about their own substance use. Holiday get-togethers are a great time to share stories from one generation to the next.

Set boundaries. If there is known alcohol or other drug use among family members, set firm boundaries around family celebrations. Let family...

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