It’s here. Memorial Day weekend. Happy Memorial Day… or is it? If you are in early recovery, it can be challenging.
When most of us think about Memorial Day, we think about getting the day off, hanging out with family and/or friends, barbecues, fun and sun etc. However, for many struggling with alcohol, drugs, or mental health issues, Memorial Day is a gateway for potential relapse. The holiday symbolizes the beginning of summer. Unfortunately, for those in recovery, fun, sun and barbecues also mean triggers from the alcohol and parties that accompany this time of year. Staff at treatment centers often spend the Thursday and Friday before Memorial Day prepping patients for the endless triggers they may face. They create short-term relapse prevention plans and hope for strong support systems and/or near by 12-Step meetings.
If you have a loved one in recovery, it is helpful to be mindful of things we may take for granted. A simple holiday can actually be a scary event if you struggle with alcohol or drugs. What you may see as a fun start to the summer may be your loved one’s test of commitment to their mental health. And the triggers don’t stop there. Finding sober summer celebrations is a difficult task. While we encourage people in early recovery not to hide from the world, we also encourage them to plan ahead and surround themselves with support.
So, how can you best support your loved one in early recovery from alcohol, drugs, or a mental health issue?
- Be mindful of how difficult this day may be for your loved one.
- Ask them if they have a relapse prevention plan and how you can be a part of it.
- Offer them a way out. If you know you will be attending or hosting a party with alcohol or lots of people, find ways for your loved one to comfortably remove themselves from that environment, either temporarily and for the remainder of the event if necessary.
- Finally and probably most importantly, COMMUNICATE! The more you talk about a plan, the less scary it feels. Communication also helps to alleviate stigma and shame from recovery. Remember, people CAN have sober fun. Recovery is about redefining normal.
Have a safe Memorial Day!
~ Tiffany Tumminaro, LCSW, CADC