It’s that time of year again. You know, the season of celebration, shopping, partying, caring and giving. It’s a time full of anticipation and excitement when family and friends gather together to eat, drink and be generally merry. But. There are two sides to every story and some people find Christmas difficult, stressful, tedious, lonely, sad. Loving an addict can easily make you become one of those people. Everyone else seems to be having the time of their lives while you can’t stop thinking about your loved-one who’s leading a terrible life.

If you’re living with your addict (and all their chaos) Christmas can be hell. My son Ryan, verbally abusive, aggressive, moody and secretive due to his drug habit, found celebration days especially hard and this badly affected the rest of us. In fact, an incident that happened on Christmas Eve 2013 was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. He had a habit of leaving the fridge door open while he was getting food and, when I walked past and closed it, he screamed and swore at me over and over for what seemed like an eternity. I knew at that point that I just couldn’t live with him anymore. It ruined my Christmas and on Boxing Day we gave him exactly three months to move out.

If your addict doesn’t live with you, or you aren’t in contact with them, Christmas is equally as difficult. Throughout the run up and the preparations senses and emotions, including sadness, are heightened. Someone who should be at the centre of this happy time has gone, leaving you with feelings of loss and grief. Opening presents, sitting down to Christmas dinner, laughing at seasonal comedies is not the same without your loved-one. You worry about their loneliness, their safety, their vulnerability. I’m on my sixth Christmas without Ryan and, although it’s always hard, it’s preferable to having him in my home. Unless he changes his lifestyle, this is the way it must be.

So if you find yourself in a similar situation this Christmas, please know that you’re not alone. It won’t be easy but you will get through it. Try and take the good bits while remembering that your much-loved addict has, for now, chosen this way of life. Wishing all my readers a peaceful Christmas and a hopeful New Year.