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How to support someone with a drug addiction this Christmas

A man sat at a Christmas dinner table wearing a festive jumper looking sullen - Which Rehab


Christmas is a time for overindulgence and celebration. However, for someone in active drug addiction, the festive period can be a minefield of triggers, which ultimately impact family and friends too.

As a loved one, it’s painful to watch someone you care about struggling with drug addiction. You will experience feelings of anger, resentment and above all, helplessness. But no matter how much you wish your loved one would seek help, that first step isn’t always easy.

Instead, find out how you can support someone with a drug addiction during the Christmas period without enabling them.

What is drug addiction?

Drug addiction is considered a brain disorder. The term describes compulsive drug-seeking behaviour, with no regard for the consequences. Severe and chronic drug use results in drastic functional changes to the brain’s circuits, mainly those which control stress, self-control and reward pathways. If left untreated, drug addiction can be fatal.

How to support someone with a drug addiction

Keep in touch

Addiction is an isolating disease. It tears families apart and ruins friendships, relationships and careers. Someone in the throes of drug addiction may not want to be surrounded by so many people during this busy period and might instead choose to stay away to avoid questions and awkward conversations. Try and reach out to them when you can to let them know they’re not alone. Such a small gesture can make a huge difference.

Remove triggers

For many people in active addiction, things like alcohol, smoking, money, social events and stress can trigger drug use. Removing as many of these stressors as possible will give them the opportunity to relax and enjoy your Christmas dinner, and above all, they will feel safe and supported.

Have a conversation

The thought of discussing addiction with your loved one can be daunting, especially if you don’t feel well-equipped in your knowledge of drug addiction. However, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask them how you can best support them during this time. They may be willing to discuss their problem with you, or they may find it difficult to open up. Who knows, you may even convince them to try a drug detox.

Enforce boundaries

Choosing to include a loved one who is actively using drugs can be difficult. You will naturally feel conflicted between wanting to include them and keeping yourself and others safe. By putting firm boundaries in place, you are ensuring the emotional and physical safety of other family members – especially if children will be present. Don’t feel bad about enforcing a strict sober policy and let them know that if they turn up intoxicated, they will not be able to stay.

Get them help

It’s never too late to get the help you need, no matter how severe your drug addiction has become. If you’re concerned about a friend or family member, don’t delay, you could save their life. Give yourself or your loved one the gift of recovery this Christmas. Call us today to start your journey.

Things you should avoid that may trigger relapse

A group of people taking a family selfie and the Christmas dinner table - Which Rehab


It’s important to remember that someone in active addiction is still under the influence of drugs, which will ultimately impact the way they behave. Just because they’re not visibly intoxicated, it’s not to say they’re of sound mind. They may come across as defensive and agitated if confronted.  

Don’t make excuses for them

While it’s understandable that you’d want to protect your loved one’s image, especially in front of extended family and friends, you shouldn’t have to make excuses for their behaviour. Drug users often fail to take accountability for their actions, but it’s not your responsibility to do so. 

Don’t be overbearing

It can be easy to slip into co-dependent behaviours when supporting a drug addict. Avoid doing things for them that they are capable of doing themselves. This can escalate very quickly, and you may end up unknowingly enabling their addiction through seemingly positive things like giving them financial support and help with travel.  

Avoid judgement

Drug addiction causes feelings of guilt and shame that only exasperate drug use. Users find themselves caught in an endless cycle of drug abuse, while desperately trying to cope with these emotions. As frustrating as it is for friends and family members, reserving judgement might make them comfortable enough to open up to you about their problem.

What happens if they relapse?

If your loved one relapses during Christmas, you must first try and get them some form of treatment, whether this is detox, rehab or counselling. Remember, relapse is incredibly common in addiction recovery, and doesn’t mean that they won’t stay sober in future. Christmas is especially triggering, so having patience is key in this situation.

What treatment is available for drug addiction?

A close up of red and silver baubles hanging in a Christmas tree - Which Rehab


There are several different treatment options available for drug addiction based on the user’s circumstances. While many people opt for a drug detox alone, this isn’t always enough if you’re dealing with an especially severe addiction. A detox should always be followed by intensive drug rehab, in order to help you overcome the psychological aspects of addiction. Drug detox and rehab can be completed on an inpatient and outpatient basis, depending on your situation.

There’s also plenty of support for people suffering from drug addiction within the community, such as Narcotics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous, which help many people maintain a drug-free life once they leave rehab.

How we can help

For some drug users, quality time spent with friends and family might just be the push they need to ask for help. If you think your loved one is open to drug addiction treatment but doesn’t know where to start when it comes to choosing a rehab, we can help.

Call our team today for free, confidential advice and support. We will take the time to discuss your needs and find the clinic best suited to your circumstances.