As the holidays approach, many families may be preparing various festivities, getting excited about the culture and traditions that surround the holiday season. However, for veterans of the armed forces, these holidays can be exceptionally difficult after returning home from service or while navigating the effects of trauma, addiction, and more that may have manifested in the line of duty. Supporting veteran loved ones through the challenges of the holidays is paramount to creating a new level of understanding as well as being more open to making changes around the practices and expectations of the holidays. Hawaii Island Recovery’s dedicated rehab in Hawaii is ready to help military families make this change.

Understanding the Challenges of the Holidays

The first step in helping veterans navigate the challenges of the holidays is understanding the stresses that veterans commonly face. Not only can the continued effects of substance use disorder (SUD) continue to impact an individual and their families but personal experiences in the military can have lasting and profound effects long after a veteran is successfully discharged. 

Many veterans may also be reluctant to reach out for help regarding personal challenges or may avoid discussing their needs in the first place, typically due to the continued effects of military culture making it difficult to admit vulnerability, or through fear of inconveniencing or worrying their own families. However, making changes to address the challenges of the holidays can make for a more healthy family-healing atmosphere.

Addressing Lost Time

Military families are used to moving around or having at least one person missing out on life events. Those deployed on tour may miss out on the life events of spouses and children, and may find it difficult to process this feeling of “lost time.” Many things can change while a person is deployed, from missing birthdays to changing personalities, new interests and hobbies, and much more. 

Holidays can make this even more prevalent for veterans. Many veterans may experience these feelings of lost time when looking to purchase gifts for loved ones, or when facing holiday traditions that may have changed in their absence. Because of this, many veterans may feel disconnected from family during what should otherwise be a time of camaraderie and joy, adding a difficult element to the holiday season that can make it hard to celebrate or to feel truly and wholly engaged. 

Navigating the Stresses of Veteran's Day
Navigating the Stresses of Veteran’s Day

Celebrating Veteran's Day is an important time. Veteran's Day can be difficult for many, and knowing how to celebrate and acknowledge the stresses can be the best approach to a truly fulfilling and meaningful holiday for veterans. For more information on how our luxury rehab in Hawaii can help, call to speak to us today at (866) 390-5070.

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The Continued Effects of Substance Use

Substance use and SUD come with an array of physical and emotional challenges, and the holiday season can make these challenges even more pronounced. The use of drugs or alcohol can be commonplace throughout military life, either through pervasive on-base drinking cultures or exposure to addictive prescription painkillers to address injury or pains while on duty or through training. Many veterans can bring their use of substances back home with them into veteran life.

How to Address Shame and Guilt Without Substances

The holidays can then present a unique challenge for veterans still navigating their addiction treatment and recovery from SUD and addiction. Drugs or alcohol may be not just common throughout holiday festivities but even encouraged or celebrated, increasing the chances of relapse. The challenges of the holidays and substance use can also introduce further feelings of isolation if veterans feel they will have to miss out on festivities while prioritizing their recovery, or bring feelings of depression or stress around balancing their sobriety and holiday expectations. 

Tackling Mental Health in Veterans

Many veterans also continue to experience mental health challenges long after their time on active duty has concluded. Depression, traumatic experiences, PTSD, survivor’s guilt, moral injury, and more are all incredibly common among veterans. These can make it incredibly difficult for many veterans to find reasons to celebrate the holiday season in the first place. 

Those who have experienced harrowing loss or life-threatening situations can find it difficult to feel like celebrating anything. Likewise, those navigating survivor’s guilt or moral injury may feel that they are somehow not “allowed” to celebrate holidays or feel happy about their lives, introducing further challenges of the holidays that can impact each veteran’s perspective and attitudes. Other veterans may feel pressure to be “happy” or “normal” throughout the holidays, further pushing down their challenges of the holidays to meet this unrealistic expectation. 

Flashbacks to traumatic events are also common during the holiday season. Even with the best intentions, some triggers to traumatic experiences can be difficult to predict. For some, this can be certain times of the year, especially if they experienced intense trauma around the holidays while in service. Others may look to celebrate the holidays similarly to how they did with their unit in military service, bringing back more memories and difficult feelings. 

Relapse Prevention Strategies for Sober Veterans
Relapse Prevention Strategies for Sober Veterans

Overcoming addiction as a veteran is difficult, and having established, effective, and comprehensive relapse prevention strategies in veteran life is crucial to avoid re-engaging with drugs or alcohol. For more information on our dedicated veteran programs and unique approach to our Hawaii rehabilitation, or if you have any questions about your next step, call (866) 390-5070.

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Overcoming the Challenges of the Holidays

Acknowledging that veterans will have a unique relationship with the holiday season is the first step in creating a new approach to healing in veteran life. While difficult, opening a conversation about the needs and feelings of veterans around this time of year is the first step toward better understanding the situation and enacting effective, educated change. Hawaii Island Recovery is always available to explore not just the needs of veterans and the challenges of the holidays they face but also how military families can introduce effective change to create something to truly celebrate. 

Seeking Addiction Help

The holiday season can present many unique challenges for veterans, both as they continue to overcome the difficulties of their time in service as well as adapt to a fulfilling civilian life. At Hawaii Island Recovery, we can help you or your veteran loved one address and overcome these challenges, especially as the stresses of the holiday season continue to impact daily life. From personalized treatment programs designed to address trauma, PTSD, substance abuse, and more, to dedicated veteran programming to take a personal and effective approach to veteran needs, our comprehensive approach to healing can be instrumental in your transformation. For more information about our rehab in Hawaii, call to speak to us today at (866) 390-5070.