Karen L. Kehler, MA,  MSHA - Private- Professional- Affordable Counseling Services
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Kehler Counseling Blog

How to Do Christmas When Addiction is Present

I got this link in my Facebook newsfeed today – WARNING – IT IS HARD TO WATCH! BUT share it . . .
but if it’s hard for us to ‘watch’ I can’t even imagine what it is like to experience it.     That is what we forget when we are busy having a ‘great time’ with friends and family through this holiday season.   We deny it.  We ignore it.  We minimize it.    I know I have done it.   I also know that I have made radical changes in how I ‘party’ over the years.   It is often the ‘why’ you don’t see me out at social events.  I don’t want to even take the chance of driving ‘impaired’ much less legally drunk.   I like many – do want to have a glass of wine or a mixed drink – it is HOW we ‘celebrate’ – it ‘takes the edge off’ – it lessens the anxiety – it helps us feel less uptight – worried – caring about ‘dumb’ stuff.   I’m not going to lecture.  
 
I just want everyone to stay mindful of how we celebrate can also destroy lives.    If you know that you want to drink ‘too much’ then make ALL arrangements so that you DON’T drive and also be mindful about your partner not driving YOU if they are impaired.   Too often we assume they are ‘ok’ to drive – when in fact they aren't – but we might not be either – so someone risks driving home. . .  been there done that.   You can get a DUI for LETTING someone drive drunk!!   Even if you ‘win’ in court you still have to pay for the lawyer! 
 
I always start my ‘soap box talk’ with clients with the word YET.    It is the most crucial word of all.  YET.   It didn't happen to YOU yet.    But ‘yet’ could be tonight – this weekend – this Christmas. . .   You could be the driver who ‘accidentally' goes off the road, texts, gets distracted, took that pill to ‘handle nerves’ or passes out – blacks out. . . or you could be hit – maimed and killed by someone else – who thought ‘yet’ wouldn’t happen to them . . .  
 
I love my parties with alcohol as much as many – but on a daily basis I also get to see the lifetime of damage – grieving –loss that ‘partying’ or ‘calming my nerves’ leaves families, children, spouses, co-workers, neighbors and other significant loved ones.   They are forced to manage through the rest of their lives with the daily reality of that loss.   They aren’t protected by blackouts, passing out, brain damage or even death– they too often got ‘the phone call’ and blindsided by it.   
 
They quickly learn that life has NO absolutes.     No matter how ‘good’ they are – bad can happen. 
·         If you want to party with alcohol – be an adult and plan accordingly.  If you have as serious problem stopping once you start – don’t start – your GOOD friends will have alternatives-  we are NOT in high school worrying about peer pressure!   There is always bottled water, soda, coffee, teas, ‘sparkling’ something.   
  • TELL Them you are on medication and can’t drink.  
  •  If someone at your home says they ‘can’t drink’ HAVE ALTERNATIVES.  See previous listing.
  •  If you know it will be a ‘balls to the walls drinking’ event – YOU CAN STAY HOME and you CAN do SOMETHING ELSE!   You will probably only miss ‘how drunk we got’ stories.
  •   FOCUS on the MEANING or REASON for the event.   
o   Focus on the KIDS – and their excitement about Santa and gifts as well as feeding reindeer and Elves, Christmas lights and 'Elf on the Shelf' . . .
o   Focus on the RELIGIOUS meaning – attend church services and Children's presentations.
o   Focus on the MUSIC – its traditional – sensational and often done by volunteers – ENJOY their dedication!
o   Focus on the PEOPLE – they may not be around next year – act like they won’t – and VALUE their presence this year!
o   Focus on LAUGHS – share FUN – get out of your own routine – box and structure – be different – spontaneous – unpredictable.  
o   Focus on the SPECIAL people – visit the lonely, sick, elderly, disabled, isolated – bring JOY. 
 
I could go on and on- but what I’m discovering as I ‘age’ (yuck) . . . is that with each added year I’m also adding to the list of special people who I have lost – and when the holidays come around that loss is magnified – when you’re young you haven’t experienced as many losses – Christmas can be about KIDS and gifts and all the ‘fun’ stuff that happens – but when you’re older and more years are on your inventory – the number of losses can easily outweigh those ‘children’ moments.    It makes the holiday season feel ‘heavy’ or more burdensome.   It makes me so much more aware of how my older relatives felt –wondering why they ‘weren’t  happy’ during the holiday season like I was. . .  I was naïve and clueless!  That’s what’s so special about INCLUDING young children into the holidays!   They bring that needed distraction – spirit – fun back in!  
 
So I will end here –I just want to bring QUALITY to your holidays – knowing that each one of you is struggling against the odds of that.   But as I tell everyone of my clients . . .
Life is Hard – Don’t Make it Harder.   I’ll add:  Don’t Drink and DRIVE!    Set up places for your heavy drinking friends to STAY –so everyone can sleep well. 
Alternatives:
·         Have neighbor/friend provide ride (call when needed). 
·         Have a cab /Limo/ shuttle arranged in advance.
·         Have a confirmed designated driver.
·         Walk!
·         Take turns – one drinks the other drives – flip next time. 
·         Don’t add to risks – stay home if weather is bad.  
·         If you’re throwing the party – Have  non-alcoholic alternatives!  Make it fun!    
  • Focus on food - music- entertainment-seeing people - not the alcohol! 
·         Always respect the FIRST time someone says they’re not drinking – don’t make stupid comments – you’re NOT in high school.  DO NOT tempt them with alternatives or shots.   We are grown-ups.  
·         Alternate glasses of water for every glass of alcohol – this also prevents hangovers!  

Let’s get through this Holiday season with as few losses as possible –some will come naturally – but we don’t need to be part of the problem and a lifetime of loss that wasn’t expected or planned.  
 
Thanks for reading this far.   If it saves lives it will be worth every word and minute.

Karen

 

 

4 Comments to How to Do Christmas When Addiction is Present:

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gift-toys on Monday, November 02, 2015 1:39 AM
This is very interesting....i liked it
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rehab-center.in on Thursday, December 03, 2015 3:49 AM
You are right this is great.


corporate gift ideas on Tuesday, November 10, 2015 11:28 PM
Your work has always been a great source of inspiration for me. I refer you blog to many of my friends as well.
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Live Nifty Future Tips on Monday, February 29, 2016 8:22 AM
Thanks a lot for this contribution! It's been very useful for me. Everything is very open and represents very clear explanation of issues. Really blogging is spreading its wings quickly.
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