Presents, lights, family, food, cold weather; all go hand in hand with the holidays. Addiction, pain, dysfunction, lies; things that shouldn’t be associated with the holidays but unfortunately are all too common if there is an addict in the family.

When I was a kid, all my family would come together and help my mom and grandma bake goodies while we listened to Christmas music. We would sit by the Christmas tree, cuddling close. The kids wrote letters to Santa in hopes he would write something back. He always did and his handwriting looked just like my grandmas. We set out the cookies we baked and carrots for the reindeer. I forced myself to stay up late hoping to catch a glimpse of the acclaimed man in red anxiously anticipating Christmas morning and the gifts I would receive. As a child, it was easy to be selfish and only think of what old St. Nic was bringing me. And as I got older, I only got more selfish, but for a different reason.

On December 2nd, 2014 I had just arrived in Pittsburgh, PA to see my grandparents. I was completely trashed and consumed an amount of drugs that would knock out a horse. Not only that, but it had been three years since I had last seen them and even longer since I had spent Christmas with my family. I asked them to get me a hotel room because my boyfriend had left me and I was homeless. They informed me that my only option was to go to Pittsburgh and see them. Little did I know, they had already set me up in a drug treatment program.

The first few days of the visit were ok. I was sick as a dog from a “cold” (opiate withdrawals) and spent most of the time sleeping. Conversation was light and interactions were limited. My plan was to stay there, get some Christmas money and go back to Hawaii. They had other plans.

On December 16th , I met the interventionist they had set up, resulting in me locking myself in their upstairs bedroom, refusing to talk. And if that weren’t enough, I called my grandparents every terrible name you could imagine. I phoned my Dad and begged him to help me. That didn’t work either. So I threatened to end my life if he didn’t do what I wanted him to. He knew those were veiled threats and refused to budge on his decision. Mom was no help either. I hated them all and made sure my words cut them deep.

I wasn’t even myself. I was at a point my life didn’t even matter, so Christmas was the furthest thing from my mind. When I finally realized the only options I had were to be homeless in Pittsburgh or go to a treatment center, I reluctantly gave in. But once again I had to be selfish. I told them I wanted them to fly with me to the treatment center. In their eyes, they would have done anything to get me to Louisiana and started on a program. In my eyes, I just didn’t want to be alone.

The night before we were leaving, I asked them about Christmas. I didn’t want to be in rehab on Christmas. I didn’t even believe I had a real problem. And I know it wasn’t easy for my grandparents in any way, shape or form to tell me I had to go. I’d like to say things changed that day and I became considerate or selfless, but I would be lying.

In fact, I didn’t think about them and what I put them through. I didn’t think about Christmas or the money they spent on me that they could have used for other things. I only saw myself. On Christmas day, I didn’t even want them to call me. I had the audacity to be angry with them for putting me in rehab during Christmas.

I did decide to call my family that day. The reaction I got from all of them was more valuable than any Christmas present I’ve ever received. My grandfather who helped me get into treatment cried when we spoke and he promised me that the following Christmas we would all be together. Sure enough, he kept his word.

Fortunately during the course of my treatment, I was able to take responsibility for my actions as well as how selfish I was. I knew at the time I was being selfish, but I didn’t care. My treatment rehabilitated my ability to care, not only for myself, but for my family and friends too. The road back to being responsible was actually easier than I thought it would be.

Addiction is never easy no matter what time of year it is, but a loved one’s struggles with addiction are often ignored “because it’s the holidays”. I urge you not to wait until it’s too late. Get them help now so they can spend every future holiday with the ones they love; healthy and sober. If you or someone you love is dealing with addiction do not hesitate to call today.

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