Family Recovery – Holiday Survival Guide 2020

holiday survival guide

Here we are, holidays 2020, and living through our second COVID-19 surge. Things are battening down again, and it remains challenging to find safe connection with others in recovery.  But there is no closing down for addictive disease progression. And there is no closure for the angst experienced by family members who love a person with a substance use disorder.  


Open and Safe – Sanford Telehealth

Therefore, there is no down time to the mission of Sanford Addiction Treatment Centers. We are continuing to educate, support, and treat those with substance use disorders (SUD), along with their family and friends.  We are continuing to deliver treatment virtually to all our clients. Sanford Outpatient Center is operating Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) 3-5 days a week, depending on client needs.  All the ongoing recovery and aftercare groups are continuing virtually. Individual therapy is continuing via telehealth. And our ongoing Family Education Series and Family and Friends Support Group are up and running. We are here for our clients and the readers of Excursions with a Holiday Survival Guide.


This article is specifically designed to support families and clients through this difficult time. It is a resource, survival guide, and educational plan for families and clients who might be sheltering from COVID-19. I have reviewed previously published articles and put them into a specific reading order. This should help provide some understanding and guidance through the holidays. Especially if you are struggling with the long-term anxiety of the pandemic.


A Unique Time in Our Lives …

As you begin to read this material, acknowledge this time in all of our lives is unique. Most people have not lived through a pandemic before. The economic threat is real, and many of us are facing a financial stress we have not experienced before. The loss and threat factors are enormous! In a life situation where a member of your family has been dealing with active addiction, you enter this current crisis with elevated stress and risk at the very start.


Expect yourself to feel stressed, sometimes confused about your choices, overwhelmed and even hopeful!  To survive 2020 and come out improved, you must find a sense of resilience. (That will be the next article.) To improve your specific “resilience factor”, you need accurate information on addictive disease and the best self-care you can give yourself!

The first article to read is:

Social Distancing, Isolation and Addiction Recovery

Follow this article with:

Sheltering at home with a Substance Misusing Loved One

After reading these two articles, review:

The Sanford Library of Virtual Recovery Resources


Specifically, look for those resources you believe will be useful to you and your situation and try a few. Now you are clearer about the reality of the situation and you know that support is available.


Next, move on to educating yourself about addictive disease. Please read:

Addiction is NOT a Choice 

Right after that, read:

Do You Know How Active Addiction Feels?


This gives you accurate information on substance use disorders, and you have an improved understanding of what it feels like to have this disease. Now, you are equipped to impact change in a more effective and positive manner  As you read these next four articles please remind yourself, that what you are dealing with is a disease in a person you love. And there is a huge difference between the person you love and the disease process consuming that person’s brain.


Please read these four articles on together:


Denial of Addiction, the first stage of Acceptance

Justification of Addiction, The Second Stage of Change

Deception as a Defense in Addiction-The Third Stage of Change

Manipulation-The Fourth Defense of Addiction


Holiday Survival Guide 2020

I am hopeful readers have found the presentation of these articles, in this order, helpful. Because, surviving these unique moments in time will allow you to emerge with an improved quality of life for your entire family. I encourage readers to contact me with their specific “how to” questions and comments at No identifying information is necessary and perhaps we can get a dialogue going that will lead to treatment for your family. Likewise, there is hope through Sanford Addiction Treatment Centers. Happy and healthy holidays!


holiday survival guide


Caroline (Carli) Parmelee-Noffsinger has 20 years clinical experience including: primary therapist and case manager for residential, IOP and outpatient therapy. Carli’s primary role at Sanford House is facilitating the Family Program. She is currently updating and revising the program design and content and hopes to improve upon an already successful approach to family intervention. In her free time, Carli spends time with her horse. She has been a horse lover and owner for most of her life and has facilitated equine therapy sessions. She says, “The back of a horse is good for the inside of a person.” You can reach Carli with questions about The Sanford House Family Program at