Hooray! It’s finally arrived. Tis the season of goodwill. It’s Christmas! Annual leave from work. Presents to exchange. Guilt free feasting on fine foods and wine. Excitable young ones playfully tossing snowballs. The atmosphere is jolly as we all prepare to celebrate with friends, loved ones and of course, our beloved family. Could things be more idyllic? As far as expectations go, the traditional picture perfect image of a snow capped cottage filled with the comforting scent of fresh pine from the Christmas tree, decorated with warm glowing lights and hosting a hand-painted nativity set is often far from the truth.

Family dynamics are tricky to navigate at any time of the year, however at Christmas they can become all but impossible. The reunion at the family home surrounded by brothers and sisters, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles and maybe the odd “Auntie” (who in fact is not a blood relative but a friend of the family) can bring about a modern day, psychological head-scrambling phenomena known as Christmas ‘Holiday Regression[1]’. Before you know it you are twelve again! Once this spontaneous return to adolescence has occurred, the challenge begins. You will most likely be accompanied by your own family (partner and children), and your usual responsible adult brain is being battered with the reversion of the behaviour patterns you had when you were a child. Confusion and apprehension ensues, triggering the release of cortisol, a major stress hormone. Flight is not an option, it’s Christmas day and there are so many high (albeit unrealistic) expectations.

The human tendency to expect the best is the result of comparative optimism, a well-known cognitive pattern whereby we visualise goals we want to see. Christmas also encourages significant underestimation in necessary time allocated towards tasks. Referred to as ‘The Planning Fallacy[2]’, when in full force, characteristics of this would likely result in a shambles of a Christmas. Once chaos is in full swing, stress combating feasting and drinking begins. For most of the family excessive alcohol consumption is regarded as harmless, socially acceptable and often even expected. However, sometimes it is a time when you notice that a particular family member, may be taking things a little far.

Because Christmas is a time to reminisce and unearth some skeletons from family closets, it can lend a multitude of opportunities for truths to be aired as “it all comes out in the wash”. When one member of the family appears to be overdoing it, and it becomes evident that he or she has an unhealthy relationship with drugs or alcohol, the family may react in a whole host of different ways. Suddenly, the perfect family Christmas is awash with a plethora of emotions like; shock, disbelief, regret, sadness, disgust or even blame.

If you find yourself worried about someone in your family this Christmas, please don’t worry alone. At Addcounsel’s luxury rehab in central London, we have a four-stage recovery route framework in which the family play an integral part of their loved one’s journey. The first Stage is ‘Intervention’. If you have noticed something amiss with a member of your family during the holidays this year, contact us and we will arrange to meet with you to structure the appropriate intervention route, enabling a smooth transition to assessment. (This can be done in either voluntary or crisis situations).

The next stage of the framework is the assessment, whereby our multi-disciplinary team of experts will assess and examine your loved one to obtain a detailed understanding of their situation. We will work with you and your suffering loved one every step of the way during this process. After the assessment, our team will put together a care plan individualised to the unique needs of your loved one. From there we will be able to move them into treatment.

Treatment at Addcounsel’s discrete, luxury rehab centre in central London leverages one of the world’s most extensive menu of treatment services. Our care plan is delivered with the focus always on the patient and their family. We understand that anyone with an addiction or mental health condition is more than just the sum of their symptoms. For that reason, we treat the whole person with a range of services including biochemical restoration, psychotherapy, holistic therapies, nutrition therapy, functional medicine. At our rehab your loved one will be given every available resource to resolve any underlying causes that may be triggering their addictions.

Our work isn’t over once your loved one has finished treatment either, we create robust aftercare programmes to support lifestyle and family re-integration that facilitate long-term recovery maintenance, promote wellbeing, and limit the chances of relapse. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a member of our team this Christmas, if you believe someone in your family could benefit from the extensive range of treatment we can offer at Addcounsel’s luxury rehab.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/news/oliver-burkeman-s-blog/2013/dec/20/psychology-christmas-holiday-family-regression accessed 6/12/2019

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/science/brain-flapping/2017/dec/20/festive-stress-why-the-christmas-season-can-be-anything-but-merry accessed 6/12/2019