BATAVIA, Ohio — Getting ready for the holidays usually involves buying presents and making plans to spend time with family. But for people recovering from addiction, it might also mean taking steps to stay ahead of their struggle.
Jessica Johnson knows the feeling, which explains why she’s on the other side now trying to help.
Johnson said the holidays were particularly difficult in her first few years recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.
“Knowing that they’re not healthy for myself was a really uncomfortable thing that I had to grow through,” Johnson said.
"Really. Just fear of the unknown sometimes can take somebody into an unhealthy place, so having support around the holidays is key.”
Now, 10 years into sobriety, Johnson works with the Clermont Recovery Center and Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services to support others trying to get and stay clean.
“Sometimes people just aren’t in a place, even in early recovery, where they’re ready to be at Grandma’s house where everybody’s going to be there and people might be asking questions I’m just not ready to answer,” said Melissa Cole of Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services.
Staffers say the holidays can present many new challenges and even open old wounds for people starting their journey to recovery.
“The holidays are really tough,” said Michael Jones of Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services. “As I’ve said, our clients have spent probably some time in jail or prison, which leads to a lot of family dysfunction. There’s anger and resentment.”
“The holidays can be really tricky for people in early recovery and in recovery in general,” Johnson said. “Folks who are in active addiction often burn a lot of bridges with family members.”
With many offices closed around the Christmas holiday, 24/7 marathon meetings organized by Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous offer extra support for people who might need it.
“Having a safe place that I can go to at midnight if need be is very helpful,” said Johnson.
Where To Get Help
The Greater Cincinnati Area Service Committee of Narcotics Anonymous is hosting a Christmas Marathon from noon Dec. 24 to noon Dec. 25 at North Church, 4222 Hamilton Ave. Doors open at 11 a.m. Call 513-238-3435 or 513-462-2428 for more information.
The Cincinnati Area Intergroup ALCATHON starts at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 24 and runs through the 8 p.m. meeting on Dec. 26 at River of Life Church, 2000 Central Parkway. Get more info by emailing Alcathon@aacincinnati.org or calling 513-351-0422.
The 29th annual Eastside Area ALCOTHON starts at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 24 and ends after the 10:30 p.m. meeting on Dec. 26 at Holiday Inn Eastgate, 4501 Eastgate Boulevard. Call 513-239-0733 or 513-284-1941.