Sobriety and the holidays | Editorial

The holidays can be a very challenging time for those with an addiction.

Many who are not yet in sobriety will choose to wait until after the holidays to seek treatment. People already in recovery will be around alcohol during Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings. The holidays are also hard on your mental health, which can lead to a relapse.

According to the Hazelton Betty Ford Foundation, some families might consider the holidays an inappropriate time to help a loved one get into addiction treatment when, in fact, it could be an ideal opportunity. Addiction treatment initiated during the holidays could be the best gift you give to your family, your friends and yourself.

Community agencies and providers work to ensure that mental health and substance use treatment and recovery services are available to San Juan County residents. Compass Health on San Juan Island (360-378-1511) provides both mental health and substance use services.

When an addict makes the decision to seek help, “what comes next?” is a big question. If treatment at a mainland facility is needed, that’s often a significant challenge. Community in Recovery ( runs a county-wide collaboration called Recovery Rides with Compass Health and the islands’ three community resource centers. The program matches drivers and riders with clients who need transportation to a treatment facility, which can be as far north as Bellingham and far south as Everett. For more information, call 360-317-3119.

If you are currently in recovery, consider attending a 12-step meeting before a holiday event. Set up a plan to exit a gathering if you are feeling triggered: make plans to meet up with your sponsor or talk on the phone; find your own transportation, or hitch a ride with someone in your support system; limit your time around stressful situations and difficult people; prepare to politely refuse alcohol or other drugs.

Help lines

Mental Health Access Line: 1-888-693-7200

Washington Recovery Help Line (substance use resources): 1-866-789-1511

24-Hour Care Crisis Line — Volunteers of America: 1-800-584-3578