Holiday season brings emotions and challenges for those in recovery

December 25, 2018 GMT

HUNTINGTON — Christmas and the New Year are often, unfortunately, a time of great pressure for those in long-term recovery.

For those still breaking from substance use disorder — and maybe a not-so-distant past mired in illicit drug use — the season can be a whirlwind of mixed emotions, even when sober.

“When you’re in addiction, you feel self-pity, like you let your family down,” explained Beau Crabtree, a client at Recovery Point of Huntington, now five months sober. “Whenever you start feeling that way, it helps to just reach and talk to somebody.

“And by the end of the conversation, you’re out of it. And by the end of the day, you’re becoming a better you.”


It’s been a long road to recovery for the 29-year-old Huntington native, who began abusing pain medication at age 11, and by 15 was smoking crack cocaine. It took him through the prison system and eventually to heroin and meth.

But compared to last Christmas, or even this past summer, Crabtree said he’s carved out a whole new outlook on life in his time at Recovery Point — part of the solution, as he put it, as opposed to another year as part of the problem.

“I went from being a menace to society to being a productive member of society,” he continued. “And even though I’m not with my family for Christmas, I’m working on myself to be a better father, a better son, and a better brother.”

The season may be even be more difficult for those recovering from alcohol addiction given the ready flow of drink uncorked in the name of holiday cheer.

For former alcoholics, however, the spirits shared among friends and parties could quickly become a trap back to their former life.

Alcoholics Anonymous and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation offer a few tips for navigating the season in sobriety, while still having a fulfilling Christmas and New Year:

• Consider skipping any

drinking occasion you feel nervous about and consider alternative festive activities.

• Leave a party early if you feel you’ll be tempted to drink.

• Go with a sober friend.

• Carry around a non-alcoholic drink, such as pop. Already having a drink will make it less likely you are offered one.

• Avoid known risks, such as heavy-drinking individuals or events.

• Create and celebrate new, non-alcoholic traditions for the Christmas season.

West Virginians can also call the Help4WV addiction helpline 24 hours a day at 844-435-7498.