Christmas in rehab.
December 24, 2010 8:01 AM   Subscribe

Merry Christmas from my time zone. I'm having Christmas lunch today with a friend who is in rehab, at the rehab center. Most of the people there will be there because they're not allowed out yet.

It's not a high security place or anything, but I'm still a bit worried about saying and doing the wrong things.

Advice and tips for how to enjoy my Christmas lunch with a bunch of freshly sober/clean and probably slightly fragile recovering addicts?

Any tips on things I should definitely avoid saying or doing?
posted by Ahab to Human Relations (8 answers total)
Best answer: Focus on your friend. And when interacting with others, just treat them like you would anyone you've just met - keep the conversation light.
posted by smokingmonkey at 8:07 AM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Treat everyone there as you would if you and your friend were in a public restaurant. If there is a sticky subject (alcohol, drugs, gambling) just steer the conversation away from it, unless your friend wants to discuss it.
posted by _cakes at 8:14 AM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Three years ago I spent five months in treatment, and was there over Christmas. The center made a really big deal about the holiday because a lot of people were quite homesick at that time. I wasn't feeling much of anything, so it wasn't a big day for me and I mostly just wanted it to be over. There was a fair bit of gratitude going on amongst the patients, and the atmosphere was made cozy for the day, but all in all the conversation was the same as any other day-- I agree with smokingmonkey and _cakes, and I wouldn't worry too much about saying the wrong things. Asking lots of general questions and letting your friend make some complaints to a fresh audience, and telling some amusing bits of non-threatening gossip from the outside world will probably be appreciated. But yeah, treat it like any other visit.
posted by mireille at 8:17 AM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: To clarify: ask lots of questions about daily life there, keep it light, and for the gossip, don't bring up things that exes are doing or that parties people are going to-- light stories about acquaintances or not-too-close friends are least threatening/triggering, but provide a lot of relief from the relentless and deep emotional exhaustion of treatment.
posted by mireille at 8:25 AM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you. That seems both reassuring and very sensible. Bedtime for me. If anyone else has got anything, I'd love to read it in the morning.
posted by Ahab at 10:24 AM on December 24, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks especially mireille for the tip about not talking about parties. Lots of those at the moment. And it's something I probably would have talked about.
posted by Ahab at 10:27 AM on December 24, 2010

Best answer: Glad to help. Now that I'm a bit more awake, I just wanted to add something- it helped me a lot to hear two things when I was there: 1) that I wasn't missing a thing on the outside, that it was the same old people doing the same old shit and 2) that people were proud of me. Of course, #1 wasn't exactly true and #2 was only true for some (those who cared about me and who weren't threatened by someone close getting clean), which I learned much later, but when I was in the middle of it all, being told those things helped me focus on my recovery and not on what was happening elsewhere. So, "how are all of our friends doing?" type-questions can be easily deflected with "oh, you know, same old shit-- you're not missing anything, and by the way, so-and-so and so-and-so say hi and they have said how proud of you they are", and then turn the conversation elsewhere.

I'm still only partially coherent on this, I think. Feel free to MeMail me if you have more questions!
posted by mireille at 10:46 AM on December 24, 2010 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you all again. It went really well. It was a glorious Australian Christmas in a bush setting, with a wonderful meal cooked by a pro chef who's been having a few issues recently. Much good cheer expressed over glasses of lemonade, kangaroos hopping past the windows during lunch, a stray bobtail goanna in the dining hall, and and no-one seemed to struggle or suffer too much.

In fact, nothing too upsetting seemed to come up for anyone, and I managed not to put my foot in my mouth at all. There was a little talk of drugs and alcohol, but it was generally positively focused on abstinence.

With my friend, I steered clear of the fact that this week is going to be one long party, and my friend didn't ask about it. I did a present run on Christmas eve, so there was an overwhelming load of good wishes and metaphorical hugs for him from the rest of our friends. He got a bit moist eyed over that, but I think he really was glad that no-one is forgetting or abandoning him.

It was something very different from the usual Christmas me, and I've walked away from it with a bit more hope for the my friend and the year to come.

posted by Ahab at 8:28 AM on December 25, 2010

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