5 Reasons to go to rehab over Christmas

christmas rehab

5 Reasons to go to rehab over Christmas

Making the decision to go to rehab over Christmas suits people for a range of reasons. For some people, it’s the easiest time of year to get away from work. For other people it’s the best time to remove yourself from pressures at home. Ultimately, Christmas can be a time when thoughts of suicide peak and for those who have addiction, the risks are all that much higher.

Why go to rehab over Christmas?

A picture perfect Christmas means you’re surrounded by loved ones. The day is full of laughter and delicious food and you give and receive equally thoughtful gifts. The reality can be vastly different. Families argue at Christmas, presents cost money (yes, more debt) and for those who don’t have families it can be a bleak reminder of loneliness and isolation.

1. Christmas is when I embarrass myself at work parties

Temptation is rife at Christmas. It’s socially acceptable to drink at work parties and in most cultures it’s even encouraged. Not drinking, in contrast, can be perceived as antisocial or uptight. Rehab over Christmas means you can celebrate safely in a supportive environment. You can have fun, but without the risk of being offered a drink every minutes.

In the case of Taylor* he said rehab for him was a way to avoid embarrassment, because “I know I needed help. I chose to book it for November and December so I would be here instead of at my Christmas party. I work for a one of The Big Four [accounting firms] in Australia, and for us Christmas means a couple of big nights out. We do socialise throughout the year but I usually just go to the charity events and they wrap at 10pm or before, so I have a clear cut-off. Christmas is another story. Everyone has had long year and want’s to let loose. Without going into too much detail, I do not want a repeat of last year.”

2. Being alone is a trigger for me

Most people with addictions isolate themselves while they use. They do this so they can maintain their addiction without friends of family intervening. Sadly, the end result is that many people find themselves alone. They have worked so hard to keep a distance from people over the course of addiction, that they have succeeded in leaving themselves out of family gatherings, friendships and they no longer receive invitations to join anyone at Christmas. So, if you have found sobriety but you lack company, this can be a problematic time of year that risks you relapsing.

3. Credit card stress makes me want a drink at Christmas

Christmas comes with an array of expectations including presents.

“I didn’t really feel like I had a place at my sister’s Christmas lunch, but at least I could be the fun aunty with the gifts,” says Jemima*, “it’s not so fun when you have the crushing debt though. It’s built up over a few years along with other expenses, and every year when I get it under control, Christmas rolls back around. It’s a predictable cycle of shop, feel ashamed about the stupid amount of money I spent, then use.”

Rehab over Christmas costs money too, but the investment in yourself means you are in a better state of mind to make healthy decisions. Regardless of whether you know it at the time, sobriety means you will be more present and more capable of being their for your family and friends in the long-run.

4. Rehab over Christmas: It’s the only time I can get off work

For people who work in high-pressure jobs it can be discouraging to take more than a few days off in any one instance. Many companies however, will have closure periods over Christmas and even create ‘forced leave’ periods where their staff have to take time off. For some, that can make it the perfect time of year to disappear discreetly. In Thailand, you have privacy and the weekend excursions give you the perfect social media photo opportunity to show yourself tanning on a kayak and venturing out to elephant sanctuaries.

5. My family are my biggest trigger

Family members can be our biggest advocates and at the same time hurt us the most. Unless people have experienced addiction, it can make it difficult for them to always understand. Family members want to believe the best of you, and that can make them easy to deceive.

Addiction typically involves secrecy and that involves telling lies. Family members are less likely to challenge us than our sponsor or therapist. In some instances like Antony’s* the concern can fuel use, “I am a dentist, so I work fairly short hours only three days a week. I can disappear a bit because of my flexible hours. My family know I am in recovery but they don’t call me out on it when I slip up even if they suspect. My partner, ex-wife and mum, and my eldest daughter all check in over the holidays and we spend Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter together. Somehow them asking me ‘how are doing?’ with that look of pity in their eyes just makes me want to use.”

Antony, like many people struggling with sobriety, has been to rehab before. He attended rehab in Canada before coming to Australia and says he needs distance from family to focus on his sobriety.

“It’s not that I don’t love them, but I need to do this for myself. That means having space to focus on how I am feeling without worrying about how other people are seeing me. Because, I guess, if I am worrying about them I lie to them, and that means I feel ashamed and then I use… it’s a problem I am becoming more aware of since being in care here at Lanna Rehab.”


If this sounds relatable and you need support over the holidays, please reach out. Our dedicated team work 365 days of the year.

*Names have been changed for privacy.


Anne Lazarakis joined the Lanna Rehab team in 2019, from Sydney, Australia. She writes about addiction and mental health as a global issue, often focusing on our own client experiences and linking these to broader social trends. Before joining our team, she worked for several health services with a focus on equality of care, including the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the Royal Hospital for Women Foundation. Mental health - particularly addiction - is often stigmatised. Stigmas associated with these areas prevent people from seeking help and recovering. Barriers can be gender, religion, or culturally-based. In some parts of the world mental health is not even recognised as a health condition. By sharing people's stories, and making information more readily available, Anne advocates for accessibility of care for all.

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