VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Some of us are celebrating and relaxing this holiday season, but for many struggling with addiction, this can be one of the most stressful times of year.
“A lot of people, when they’re in their addiction or alcoholism, start to isolate and become lonely,” Lorinda Strang, executive director at the Orchard Recovery Centre, explains. “The holiday season is just, it’s filled with expectations.”
She says it’s not uncommon for those with addictions to feel guilty over the holidays — whether it’s because of things that have happened in the past, feelings of stress, anxiety, and sadness can be amplified by the prospect of gathering with friends and family while they’re at a low.
“A lot of the people that come in here are already feeling a lot guilt and shame and remorse, and those feelings just fuel your addiction,” Strang explains. “That just keeps you in this cycle, where it just keeps getting worse and worse, so we’re trying to lift people out of that. Lift them out of those feelings of shame and remorse and guilt.”
Making the decision to go to a recovery centre can be hard enough in itself. Strang notes those struggling with addiction around the holidays can sometimes avoid checking themselves in because they don’t want to abandon loved ones during what’s supposed to be a special time of year.
“A lot of the emotions for the people that are coming into treatment is they feel guilty that they’re going to be away.”
What Strang says many people don’t realize is that if there’s chaos in your home, the absence of it “is a gift to the family members that you are not going to be with.”
“If you’re in treatment, then your family members don’t have to be worrying about you,” she tells NEWS 1130. “So, if you have a loved one who is struggling, you’re likely extremely worried about them. You’re worried that they may not show up for work and lose their job. If they’re using any kind of drugs, you’re worried that the next time you use could result in death.”
She wants people to understand how serious the situation can be, and says it’s always better to get yourself — or help others — get treatment before it’s too late.
At the Orchard Recovery Centre, Strang says staff do what they can to help those staying there feel like they aren’t alone, and that there are people there to support them.
That includes making them feel like they’re part of Christmas celebrations, by inviting clients to decorate, take part in activities and events, and opening their doors to family and friends to visit — if that’s what they want.
“If you’re at home right now and you have someone in your life you care about or you, yourself — a lot of people call and make their own plans to come in — and you’re worried about your family or you’re worried about being alone… if you can think about the fact you’re giving yourself a gift, you’re also giving a gift to your family members by coming in and getting some help and relieving everyone of the burden of worry.”