Everyone has an image of how Christmas is supposed to be. It's drilled into us from movies like White Christmas, to festive holiday cards: Christmas is about fun, family, love and joy! And yet, for many families, it's the opposite. Christmas is about turmoil, anger, fear and tears - all of which lead to an increase in alcohol and drug abuse.
For families struggling with active addiction - getting through the festive period can be fraught with challenges. There are, however, some things that can be done to help the family get through the festivities.
* Be realistic: Be prepared to ACT - an acronym for: Assess your situation, Create a family plan, and then Take action. This will allow you to prepare for the worst and aim to create the best. Know you are not alone and reach out for support.
* Prepare: Reflect on questions such as: what can I learn from last year? What types of unpleasant situations could arise? Where can I get help if I need it? Plan for possible solutions.
* Put Children First: According to the ISPCC, 1,000 children called Childline last year on Christmas day struggling with family-related issues. Many of these calls were about alcohol or drug induced situations. Think of their safety above all else.
* Manage Your own Expectations: High expectations of someone struggling with alcohol or drug addiction can lead to frustration and even despair for you. Keep your expectations real and accept what you can and cannot control.
* Involve the active alcoholic or addict: He/she may be open to making efforts for the family and may be looking for your support in doing so. If they are not currently capable of doing anything reach out and invite their cooperation.
*Detach with love: This can be a challenging concept to grasp. It doesn't mean abandon or reject your loved one. It means detaching emotionally from their addictive behaviour and setting limits around what you will accept.
* Support Recovery: If your loved one is in recovery or open to your support, let them know you care and are available to support and work with them.
* Practice Self-Care: To successfully navigate your family Christmas, it's vital you take care of yourself first. Eat well, sleep well, and stay focused on the present moment. If you are a member of a 12-step programme such as Alanon, this is the time to increase your attendance.
* Know you're not alone: Get help for yourself and your family - get yourself into a support group such as Alanon or the Family Support Network.
* Have an exit plan: Make preparations to get yourself and others swiftly out of a dangerous situation, should it arise.