Rehab During the Holidays: What to Expect

Rehab is a viable option for many people during the holidays. Some may not be aware that treatment programs continue without interruption throughout the season. Substance use statistically rises during this time and feelings of loneliness, stress, depression, and disconnection from others often lead to self-medication through drugs and alcohol. Choosing rehab during the holidays can help not only from the physical addiction but from the emotional and psychological challenges one faces that can be heightened during this time.

You’re tired. Can’t shake your depression. You’ve been working hard to resist your cravings and have tried countless times to get clean by yourself. And then the nagging voices return:

I can just have a little….I deserve it…..what’s it all worth anyway?

Before long, you find yourself back in the downward spiral of substance use and feelings of guilt and remorse while at the same time wanting to stop but can’t. Perhaps you make excuses about not showing up for a holiday dinner or decide to go but when you’re there you think everyone knows what you’ve been doing and…it’s nearly unbearable. Sound familiar?

There’s another choice you can make.

Instead of your continued substance use and/or trying to stay clean on your own, try rehab during the holidays.

Why Seek Rehab Over the Holidays?

Holidays are supposed to be a time when family comes together in a loving, celebratory way. However, in many families, that’s simply not the case.

Things may be said that wouldn’t be otherwise without the presence of alcohol. Or the family has split apart on days meant for coming together as a result of the disruptive actions from a loved one who abuses drugs. Oftentimes an addict will avoid attending family functions, which can also cause disruption or negative feelings for the member in absentia. Guilt, shame, remorse, and feeling “less than” often arise. Obligatory interactions can feel fraudulent to an addict, as they avoid answering questions about their life.

Family members who do not abuse substances often feel uncomfortable or won’t stay long because of people who attend that do use.

An option to avoid the stress of family chaos is to enter rehab during the holidays and steer clear of (while learning to cope with) the associated stressors and triggers that may create a more difficult and impactful situation to the lives of all involved, especially for the one suffering with the addiction.

What Happens in Inpatient Rehab During the Holidays?

Inpatient treatment for drugs and alcohol is not void of celebration. The daily program which includes group and individual sessions will go on as they have throughout the year, however, there are usually activities that may be available to the person attending at the holidays, such as:

  • Art therapy sessions for making cards and gifts
  • Music therapy sessions of caroling and singing
  • Holiday decorating
  • Having holiday meals together with peers and staff
  • Meditation and guided visualization techniques
  • Game and movie nights
  • Excursions such as shopping, hiking, or horseback riding
  • Family visits

The staff who are working during the holidays will try to make your stay as pleasant as possible, and understand the issues not just with entering rehab, but attending during this time.

Family Time During the Holidays in Residential Treatment

Oftentimes people in rehab are a long way from home and flying across the country is too risky when it comes to relapsing during the holidays. However, many inpatient rehabs allow for visitation from family during the holidays. For individuals who live close to the facility and have completed most of the residential program or have family who want to visit, there may be a granted furlough depending on the circumstances. Check with the policies of the treatment center and always consult the clinical staff on the pros and cons of leaving treatment during the holidays.

Hope is Just a Phone Call Away


Avoiding Stress and Drunk Driving During the Holidays

Drunk driving increases significantly throughout December into New Year’s Day and is thought of as one of the deadliest times of the year for accidents involving alcohol. Addicts may put off getting treatment until the holidays are over with standard excuses of not wanting miss parties, gatherings, and family events. However, by doing so, many events may turn negative, families are severely impacted, and depression increases. When you are struggling with substance use or addiction—checking into rehab during the holidays is your best option for avoiding additional stressors and getting on the road to recovery rather than waiting until after the first of the year.

Triggers and temptations are particularly high when attending holiday-related events. Stress related to gift giving, financial feelings of obligations can increase anxiety, chaotic energy can lead to isolation, and feelings of loneliness and isolation will increase if the addict feels unwanted, or has guilt about using and doesn’t want to be around the family.

If there are increased feelings of anxiety or depression, and drinking or using may be out of control, consider treatment at this time of year.

Holidays at Alta Mira

Holidays at Alta Mira have typically included participating in traditional activities such as tree decorating, decorating our facility and deck festively with lights, and hanging stockings labeled with the names of all our clients and staff members around our dining area.

This year, and every year, Alta Mira clients spending their holidays in rehab can also count on the following plans for Christmas and New Year’s Day:

  • Christmas Day. We have a traditional holiday celebration at Alta Mira. Throughout the day, our clients will enjoy gift-giving, games, and movies. We also have an amazing holiday dinner for clients and their families.
  • New Year’s Day. Clients can choose from any number of activities to ring in the new year from watching football together, playing games, or focusing on their treatment work, ending the day with a New Year’s feast.

We want our clients to feel as comfortable and supported as possible throughout the holiday season and enter the new year with the hope and drive they need for a successful and lasting recovery.

Alta Mira offers comprehensive treatment for people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders and process addictions. Contact us to learn more about our renowned Bay Area programs and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward lasting recovery.