The holiday season is upon us. That means celebrations, activities with family and friends, and gift-giving. That last one can either launch us into a panic because we’re terrible at finding great offerings or dial up the excitement. After all, nothing thrills like the hunt for the perfect gift.
Whatever side of the equation we find ourselves on, one thing’s for sure: Not giving anything at all is pretty much out of the question (Unless you’re the Grinch with his heart two sizes too small).
This doesn’t mean spending money is mandatory when this time of year rolls around. In fact, some of the best gifts can’t be purchased: Time, friendship, and love, to name a few. Giving someone a present – material or otherwise – allows us to show our appreciation and love for them. It also lets them know we are aware of them and that they are meaningful people in our lives. Whether we admit it or not, we all need that kind of connection.
For someone who has felt isolated and alone through substance abuse, even if they were the ones pushing people away, receiving a meaningful gift this holiday season can go a long way in reminding them they are not alone.
Succeeding in drug rehab is difficult at any time of the year, but it seems particularly daunting during the holidays. Many parties feature drug and alcohol use as a means of marking the season, family members put extra stress on relationships, and there never seems to be enough time to get everything done.
On top of that, if you enroll in a residential addiction recovery center, you’re separating yourself from your loved ones at a time when you would typically enjoy that special time together. You may know it’s the right thing to do to get healthy, but it can still be painful and lonely.
In light of this, we came up with five gift ideas that your family member or friend in recovery might enjoy:
Making the time to write and send a letter or e-mail represents probably the easiest form of giving your time. In addition, you can put together a small care package for your loved one that includes some snacks and pictures or mementos.
Sacrificing your time to go through family therapy and family support workshops and training will speak volumes to your family member in recovery. You are showing them in a very tangible way that you’re willing to go on this journey with them and that you have their back.
Other ways to give of your time could include helping with childcare or meals after a residential or inpatient stay or helping them study for their classes while they juggle college, work, and outpatient care.
You can offer the gift of your time in limitless ways, and it will likely be one of the few gifts they won’t soon forget. As author Leo Christopher put it, “There’s only one thing more precious than our time, and that’s who we spend it on.”
A Shared Experience
Along with giving your time, planning a shared experience can be a wonderful gift. Is there a particular activity they have always wanted to do or a place they would like to visit? If you have some discretionary income, you might offer a shared spa day, weekend getaway, or day trip to a nearby point of interest. On the less expensive side, consider organizing something as simple as going on a picnic in the park or spending an afternoon at the beach together.
Another idea is to work on a shared project for someone less fortunate. One of the most remarkable ways to help us take our minds off our problems and challenges is to serve others. Service also allows us to strengthen the bonds with our loved ones as we work together for those in need.
Those in recovery from addiction, especially men, often still crave the adrenaline rush that used to come with substance use. Adventurous activities that quicken their heart rate in a healthy way make great gifts.
Show them that life without drugs and alcohol can be exciting by sending them off to jump out of an airplane or paraglide off the side of a cliff. Other less extreme but equally adventurous activities include kayaking one of the local rapids, taking scuba lessons, or hitting the snow terrain park for the first time.
Something They Need
As you interact with your family member in drug or alcohol abuse treatment, pay attention. They may express specific needs that you can help meet. Maybe they complain about the constantly cold floors in the residential areas – a few pairs of thick, warm socks or some comfy slippers would make a welcome gift. Or maybe they have to drive a considerable distance for treatment – a gas card loaded with enough money for a couple of tanks’ worth of fuel may make the difference whether or not they can go that week.
Genuinely listening to one another is a sign of caring and respect. As the adage goes, we have two ears and only one mouth, so we can listen twice as much as we speak.
A Gratitude Journal
It’s hard to hold on to hope when we’re in the middle of a dark period. And perhaps there’s no darker time than finally recognizing the damage addiction has done and then resolving to change.
Recovery may be an uphill battle, but it’s definitely one your loved one can win. A way to keep that at the forefront of their mind is to encourage them to keep a gratitude journal. Writing down those things for which they are thankful each day helps them to immediately recognize the good things in their lives and also serves as a permanent reminder of those experiences when recovery gets tough.
Any blank journal or even a notebook will do. And you can inscribe it with a personal note of love and encouragement.
If someone you care about is struggling with substance issues this holiday season, please take that first step to get help. It will be the best gift you could ever give them.