The holidays are considered one of the most joyful times of the year.
During the months of October through December, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas happen in quick succession. For most people, this is a time to attend celebrations, get together with friends and family, and reflect on all of their blessings. But for addicts, the holidays represent something entirely different. The holidays, particularly Christmas, bring up many memories of past hurts and failures.
Holidays are considered really painful and sad times for some people, and addicts tend to withdraw during the holiday season for a variety of reasons that others may not understand.
Reason One: Feeling Everyone Else Is Doing Better
When the holidays roll around each year, this is the time when many people step back to reflect on their lives. And many times, the reflection isn’t what they would like it to be. Particularly for someone who has struggled with addiction, he hasn’t made the progress with his life he has wanted to, whether on a personal or career level. This feeling is amplified by having to watch many people around him experience career success, get married, and otherwise seem to move their lives forward. It can cause the addict to feel a need to withdraw because of feelings of shame and low self-worth.
ReasonTwo: Anxiety About The Upcoming Year
Another reason addicts withdraw is anxiety over having to start a new year. This is when an addict has to start thinking about what he wants to accomplish in the new year, and the expectations can be nerve-wracking, when he is already struggling with his current problems. Setting all these expectations on himself, can cause an addict to feel hopeless and withdrawn. If an addict is anxious, he will usually experience:
- Constantly being tense
- Emotional paralysis
- Anti-social tendencies
- Upset stomach
Reason Three: Having To See Friends And Family All At Once
One of the most stressful parts of the holidays is having to catch up with the friends and family addicts try to avoid during the year. This is when they have to face a barrage of the same uncomfortable questions, about what is going on in their lives. These are questions that addicts generally try to not answer to avoid accountability, and during the holidays they have to face these questions on a regular basis.
Reason Four: Painful Memories
Most people who have formed addictions to drugs or alcohol, have to carry painful family memories around with them. Whether they were raised in a dysfunctional household, or had a family tragedy happen to them, holidays are when these painful memories are dredged up. When faced with painful feelings, most people want to withdraw, so they can avoid having to relive the pain again.
Reason Five: Worried About Potential Conflicts
Everyone has been through it at one time or another, a family gathering disintegrates, because an argument breaks out between family members. Usually it’s something petty, but is the result of tension that has built over time. Sometimes it’s even the addict who gets involved in a conflict. Either way, family get-together are usually a landmine when it comes to conflicts happening. Wanting to avoid the potential brewing conflicts is another big reason addicts tend to withdraw during the holiday season.
Cindy Nichols is an addiction specialist and specializes in family interventions at Recovery Now TV.