Have you ever wondered why people struggle with depression during the holidays? Even those who aren’t plagued with addiction can feel a drop in their emotions during the most wonderful time of the year. Holiday stress has a lot to do with it, digging up the past, facing old ghosts, and more. Everyone is different. 

But, if someone’s living sober and coming up on the time of year when folks struggle with depression, it’s not likely to be a wonderful time. Thoughts of drinking or drugging can come upon them like a fierce waterfall. If you’re trying to wrap your mind around a loved one’s upcoming difficulties, here’s some helpful information. 

Why Addicts Struggle with Holidays

The merry, merry holidays pose a slew of difficulties to those struggling with addiction. First, if they’re still trying to hide their addiction from friends and families, it becomes increasingly difficult during this time. 

They might feel they need to drink or drug in order to “survive” the holiday gathering. Or, worse, they may attempt to sneak off somewhere and have another shot of something to continue the festivities. 

Then, if your loved one has just completed treatment, they may have a fear of judgment from their loved ones. Many people don’t understand the stronghold addiction places on people’s lives and write them off as foolish. Dealing with any level of scrutiny or judgment during this sensitive time creates quite a struggle. 

Finally, we have triggers. Triggers come in all shapes and sizes. Maybe someone started drinking or drugging because of a particular trauma from a particular family member. Also, resentments are the breeding ground for alcoholism and addiction. A lot of those resentments come from family dynamics. So, triggers are going to abound during this time of year, and it’s hard to say what will trigger whom.

Their Challenges

So, now you have a sensitive soul in a bit of a chaotic environment (at least, according to their sensibilities). The simple act of getting dressed, putting on a happy face, and spending a few hours with friends and family has just become a monumental task. 

And we’re not overdramatizing the struggle. December has been the deadliest month for drug and alcohol-induced deaths since 1999. If social drinkers increase their intake during the holidays, how much more are those struggling with addiction inclined to imbibe? 

It’s possible that an addict is sitting there at the dining room table consumed by a desire to drink or drug. This makes it difficult to focus and be present. And, what if everyone around them is slugging on glasses of wine? An addict is climbing an emotional mountain of turmoil and confusion while, seemingly, the rest of the family is having a jolly ol’ time.

Tips for Success

If you have a dear friend or family member coming over for the holidays, why not consider helping them through this difficult time? Do you really need to serve beer and wine? Or, might you consider warm apple cider, sparkling water with lime, and an array of exotic teas and coffees? Honestly, it wouldn’t kill the rest of the world to reduce their alcohol intake during the holidays.

Aside from the drink situation, you can also try to create a real feast of food. Having a buffet of wonders can also help someone who’s struggling. It’s a nice distraction and another “self-gratifying” way to help a loved one get through the day. 

Encourage your friend or relative to bring a sober friend with them to the holiday affair. They don’t necessarily need to bring a sober coach, but maybe they have a sponsor or a friend with several years of sobriety that can accompany them. This person can encourage them when the smell of wine wafts their way or an unkind comment is flung their way. 

Toxic Situations

Which brings us to toxic situations. One thing we often observe is that addicts are highly sensitive people. They’re good people who, by and large, feel a lot. That’s why they drink or drug. They’re trying to take the edge off everything they’re feeling. 

So, what happens when someone struggling with addiction (or newly recovered) is faced with a battering ram of a stepmother or an abrasive father? What happens if their father is already drunk, even before they’ve walked into the house? 

In some cases, it’s best for someone struggling with addiction to avoid these toxic situations. If that means they need to take a year off from the holiday gathering, give them that grace. Be happy for them if they express a desire to attend a small gathering with friends from church, etc.


Of course, it’s always easy to spot someone who’s overtly struggling with alcoholism. They’ll be drinking two and three glasses of alcohol while everyone else is still on their first. They’ll be more rambunctious than the situation calls for. You may even go so far as to label them an embarrassment. 

But, what about the one who’s suffering silently? Did you know that isolation is a key indicator that someone is going down a dark path? If someone wants to sit at home when they’d typically join various social settings, that’s your first sign.

High-functioning alcoholics often isolate. They don’t miss work; they don’t fail their exams; but, they’re terribly alone and just want to go home and drink. So, try to talk to your loved one who seems to be isolating. Is your relationship open enough where you could almost approach your friend or family member in a delicate way? At minimum, keep in mind that isolation is one (of many) indicators.

Living Sober Is Possible

Living sober is possible… with the right support system. It’s (almost) impossible to go it alone. If you educate yourself on the significant internal struggles that addicts face, then you can do something to help them when they’re ready to seek it. 

It’s our sincere desire that your loved one is ready for recovery. It’s a difficult disease, but addiction is treatable. And if your friend or family is ready to consider the SoCal way, then they’re looking at a ready-made community where former addicts embrace a lifestyle of productivity and find fulfillment in service to others. 

We offer residential and outpatient programs, as well as detox treatment care. But, this isn’t a one-trick wonder. The skills learned within our community lend themselves to a lifetime of success.

Give us a call today to bounce some ideas of of us. We’ll be more than happy to discuss treatment options to uncover the best fit for you or your loved one today.