Families get together for various holiday events and celebrate traditions, faith, love and life. When you have someone in your family who is in recovery after a debilitating journey, it’s a blessing, but your family dynamics are never the same. 

There’s usually resentment and the fear that at any time a relapse can happen. When you have siblings who’ve struggled through this journey together, you have to remember that they have a different perspective then you do. They’ve lost something too. They’ve been put in a position where they’ve “protected” their sibling by lying for them, not telling on them, watching them do drugs or buy drugs, they’ve been manipulated and stolen from and even asked to urinate for them so they can pass a drug test. They have visited them in jail, they have listened to people talk about their sibling, sometimes have gotten beat up because of it and yet the entire time, they still loved and supported them. They’ve mentally prepared themselves for the dreaded phone call that their sibling has overdosed and died. They’re mad at their parents because they were only focused on the one who is/was doing drugs. They have been robbed of a normal childhood where bonds and relationships should’ve been solid and safe..

 I know first hand the pain that families feel when they are trying to rebuild from this ordeal. My children have all suffered the effects of my daughter’s drug abuse. My husband and I’ve fought over it, we spent countless hours and money trying to help her and we were always distracted and under tremendous stress. 

Eventually, the trust is gone, the resentment and fear practically numb you.  PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is a real thing. Future events in life can trigger these feelings at any time. Siblings are hurt the most. They are so innocent; they are caught in the mix and terrified.

Healing takes a long time to rebuild, but you can get there! Not all families are ready or open to counseling. During the holidays we have family celebrations, relatives and friends that come to visit. There are so many pressures. Getting together and facing the person who hurt you the most is sometimes too hard. There are bad memories and unresolved issues that sometimes are too much to initially forgive.

Sobriety, as wonderful as that may be, is not the same as recovering.

 Just because you are “substance free” that doesn’t mean you are well. Recovery means taking responsibility for the damaged relationships that occurred when the person with a substance use disorder was using. 

My daughter has been trying to mend her relationships and she’s succeeding. She’s written apologies; met with the people she’s hurt and has shown tremendous growth. The fear of relapse and opening old wounds sometimes gets in the way of accepting the apology. Things are improving slowly in our home and I know deep in my heart that forgiveness between my siblings is around the corner. I see them laughing together again, able to be in the same room without being uncomfortable and able to enjoy the holidays again.

Forgiveness is not only for the person who hurt you. It’s for you. When you release that load of anger and hurt off your shoulders you’re able to move on. Peace can be yours if you want it.

Repairing broken relationships is critical to the process of recovery. With hard work, patience and time you can get there.

Each member of your family has suffered. Understanding addiction, being informed, educating yourself and finding a good support system will help you heal. Whether your one of the lucky ones and still have your loved one here or your loved one has paid the ultimate price and overdosed, your family will need to move forward. Life is too short. 

 There are many resources out there to help your family. If counseling isn’t an option you can go to Al-Anon/ALA-TEEN, NAR-Anon, speak to your church, school SAC, local family community meetings or contact state resources. 

Please visit the pages here in my website www.pickawareness.com. I have done the research for you because I remember how hard it was for me when I was searching for answers.  It’s all here. If you don’t see what you need, please write to me. 

Happy holidays,

Donna DeStefano

Holiday’s at our house means celebrating Christ, Life, Love and each other. My family is the most important thing in my life. Creating memories, having gratitude and giving back is top priority.