Getting Treatment During the Holidays May be the Best Gift You Can Give
The Christmas season is quickly approaching as I just heard Bruce Springsteen singing his famous rendition of Santa Claus is Coming to Town and received some Christmas sale flyers in the mail. Christmas is all about great gifts as we rejoice and remember the greatest gift ever given. Because God so loved us, He gave us His only son, Jesus, sending Him from heaven to Earth as a lowly human. Then Jesus gave us the gift of sacrificing His own life to pay the penalty we owed because of our sin. You see, Jesus sacrificed everything to give us the ultimate gifts of freedom from the bondage of sin, a transformed life on Earth, and eternal life in Heaven.
To remember, honor, and extend God’s love, we give gifts at Christmas to show our love for the special people in our life. To see that special look on their face Christmas morning that melts our heart, we search and search for the perfect gift, walking up and down aisle after aisle, in store after store. But for those struggling with alcohol abuse and drug addition, sobriety is the greatest gift they can give to themselves, their friends, and especially their close family members this Christmas season. The gifts of freedom from the bondage of addiction, a transformed life from this day forward, and eternal salvation in Heaven are life altering gifts and won’t be found on any shelf no matter what store or website you go to.
You see, the holidays are not only a great time to give this ideal gift, but the holidays are also a time when addiction and mental health issues can easily recur for those in recovery or worsen for those currently struggling.
Holidays Bring Increased Stressors
To cope with increased holiday stressors many need to soothe, escape, or self-medicate, which leads to addiction escalation or relapse. Some common Holiday stressors include:
- Colder weather contributes to winter depression, stress, and isolation as we don’t get out as much and get a little stir crazy.
- Shorter days of sunlight make it seem like the day is over quicker and we aren’t accomplishing as much as we need to, thus falling getting behind everyone else.
- Over-itis (think tendinitis, arthritis) – overeating, overdrinking, over-caffeinating overspending, overbaking, overdecorating, overdoing and overextending with so many activities (some good and some bad) and stress between Thanksgiving and the New Year wearing down our defenses. The need or desire to escape, soothe, or self-medicate can lead to addiction relapse or escalation.
- Under-itis – Underestimating, under-sleeping, under-assertiveness and not saying no when you need to.
- The many letdowns or unrealistic expectations of the holidays (like family conflict or financial stress) impact our mood and accentuate how we respond to feelings of loss or disappointment.
- Reminders of past poor holidays or of recent losses (death, moving, health, etc) that are felt more deeply at the holidays can cause greater sadness, especially as “family and joy” are the expectation.
- Divorce, no matter whether it occurred this year or many years ago, at the very least complicates holiday planning. For many, the wounds and conflicts of divorce are fresh and hurt to the core, whether you are the one who is divorced or whether it is your parents or children who are divorced.
- Charlie Brown Syndrome – becoming caught up in the complicated materialism and forgetting about the simple spiritual essence of God providing all we need in the form of Jesus.
- Alcohol intake increases by 27% between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
- The increased access to alcohol and partying during the holiday season—a spirited season for the spirits to flow—can break down willpower and create excuses for abuse.
Give a Great Christmas Gift
A gift means sacrificing something of your own to give someone else something of value. The best and most profound gift addicts can give to themselves and to the loved ones around them is healthy transformed living. This comes through making a sacrifice of the time and effort necessary for treatment—doing the work necessary to achieve one’s God-given potential.
Christian addiction treatment integrates the powerful gift of Jesus into the powerful gift of recovery because Jesus came that we may have life and have life abundantly—not material abundance, but true peace, joy, fulfillment, belonging, and contentment. The addict doesn’t possess true peace, joy, and fulfillment, but desires and needs them. Christian addiction treatment is where the first psychiatrist, Jesus, and modern science combine to bring healing to the broken-hearted and freedom to those enslaved by addictions.
Take the courageous leap of faith and give yourself and those you love most — and hurt the most — a gift you will all talk about at future holidays and for the rest of your lives. One of the greatest gifts you can ever give.