Top 13 Gifts You Can Get (or Make) for Your Loved Ones while in Recovery
We’ve seen all the recovery gift lists for people struggling with substance use disorders- but what if you are struggling and you want to give a gift? But not just any gift. Something that will help your friends, family, and loved ones understand the dark corners of your life. There are innumerable books for the loved ones of people in recovery attempting to teach compassion and kindness for the disease little understood.
We have compiled a list of 13 gifts that will help to elucidate everything you’re going through- whether you are in recovery for substance abuse, alcoholism, self-harm, eating disorders- or anything else under the sun. The compilation of these items are meant to spur conversation and mend rifts between relationships caused by physical and psychological conditions.
This compilation of holiday cheer is as much for you as it is for them. The more they know the better they can help you stay on track; understanding and compassion will help them feel more confident in themselves and YOU.
Without further ado, here are 13 gifts for your loved ones that will teach them about addiction & recovery:
Remember those silly vouchers or coupons you would make for that special someone? Maybe it was a back massage, or romantic dinner date- walk on the beach perhaps? Well we’re taking this same concept but transforming it to help you and your loved one (romantic or not) communicate during difficult times.
You can purchase a stack of flashcards at the dollar store and decorate them however you please with markers, stamps, cardstock, scrapbook paper, or paint. Then choose themes for your vouchers that will help you communicate, open up, or take a breather.
Note: I would suggest not making these “One Time Use,” these vouchers have the potential to improve your everyday relationships with the people around you if you take them seriously. When you’re crafting them, take pride in your designs and creations. Tell yourself you will try to heed their advice.
Some of my recommendations are (that I wish I totally would have made):
- Redeem this for My Honest Thoughts
No more hiding! Give your loved one the ability to remind you to be forthright. Sometimes we program ourselves to lock everything away, that we do it without thinking. When our loved ones remind us, we easily brush them away. But this serves as a future reminder to yourself.
- Good for One Cooldown
If you get as irrational as I do without realizing it- this self reminder is much better than having your loved one tell you to “calm down.” (Which usually prompts the exact opposite effect.) This voucher will help your loved one communicate in a nonaggressive manner, that won’t make you feel attacked. It will be your job to take this card seriously and to earnestly attempt to calm down.
Need to take a walk or leave the room? Do so. But come back and try to hear what your loved one is trying to communicate.
- Shush! Listen *Insert Your Name Here*
This one is for the days you refuse to listen to anyone but yourself! Empower your loved ones to help you recognize when you’re shutting down.
- Permission to Love Me
Ah yes, the hardest person to love is often ourselves- this often translates into the denial of love from others. The deflection of a simple hug or compliment causes more emotional unrest for your loved ones than you realize.
Teaching yourself to accept love from the people who love you is crucial to your estimation of yourself, and strengthening the bond between you and your muffins (or loved ones).
What are some of your own ideas? Be honest with yourself and make cards in the reflection of what you know you need to work on for your recovery that are sometimes difficult to implement in the heat of the moment.
2. Dinner Date
When was the last time you got dressed up and went somewhere nice? And when was the last time you invited your parents, siblings, lovers, or best friends to somewhere that isn’t Subway (my personal favorite)? Go to a restaurant and have a good time. Forget the woes of your personal life, and take time to enjoy life together.
You may take this time to talk about some things that may be difficult to confide.
Want a book that may change the way your loved ones view addiction? I strongly recommend this one. This text will teach your loved ones how to approach substance use disorders with a completely different outlook on how to respond.
Here’s some text from the product description:
“Beyond Addiction goes beyond the theatrics of interventions and tough love to show family and friends how they can use kindness, positive reinforcement, and motivational and behavioral strategies to help someone change.
Learn how to use the transformative power of relationships for positive change, guided by exercises and examples. Practice what really works in therapy and in everyday life, and discover many different treatment options along with tips for navigating the system. And have hope: this guide is a life raft for parents, family, and friends—offering “reminders that although no one can make another person change, there is much that can be done to make change seem appealing and possible”
4. Scrapbook of You & Them
If you read our blog consistently, you may have noticed I have a thing for scrapbooking- but that’s because they’re great for stress release, and help establish healthy hobbies and alternatives to using! (Science says so, don’t judge me.)
Remind your muffins you love them by taking the time to print out pictures of you together and scrapbooking them! (I use Walgreens’ app to send my phone’s photos straight to the store. At about $.29 cents a print, it’s hard to say no.) Pull your favorite quotes, movie one-liners, or lines from their favorite books to emblazon the page.
There are small scrapbooks you can purchase for about $10-$15 from the craft store or Wal-Mart if filling twenty pages of a 12×12 tomb seems too daunting. (I just snagged a sale at Jo-Anns for buy one get one– it may still be going on.) You can leave some pages (maybe every other page) blank and do it together. I love scrapbooking with one of my best friends, Irina.
Try making a promises page too. You might include some things like:
- I promise to come to you when it gets too hard.
- I promise to pursue sobriety with my full heart.
- I promise to propose to you when I’m 2 years clean.
- I promise tomorrow won’t be like yesterday.
- I promise to always believe in you & I.
Something sweet and cheesy like that. Scrapbooks aren’t just for lovers! Your parents, best friends, and anyone really- will be touched you went through all the work to craft a personal gift for them.
5. AA Meeting Date
You knew it would be buried in here somewhere, didn’t you? If you’ve been fighting going to AA or NA meetings while your loved ones have been begging- just give in and go at least once. Ask them to come with you, they’ll feel honored you trust them enough to invite them into the part of your life you would rather forget.
You can even wear a Christmas hat while you go. If you want a creative way to tell them, buy a separate holiday card and write something like “Surprise! We’re going to AA!” If you want to be obnoxious (in good humor!) you can plaster “AAs” all over your house- or their house, if you don’t live with them.
6. Bucket List of Things You Want to Do Together
Buy a pretty mini journal and write down everything you want to do with your loved one, and give it to them! Try to associate ballpark dates of time frames to complete these goals. This will help color both your lives with things you may have been talking about for years to do.
You’ll be using this goal setting skill for the rest of your life! Getting out of the house and staying active is one of the most important aspects of recovery. So get out there, and get creative! When you gift the journal make sure there are some empty pages left to fill in more ideas from you and your loved one.
7. Take & Share Journal
Ever pass notes back in your school days with your best friends? Well now try passing notes in a fancy journal with your loved ones about all the things you keep locked away. Sometimes it’s easier to write down our pains than it is to confess them face to face. When we’ve constructed barriers to protect ourselves, they often involuntarily erect themselves.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to tell my loved ones everything that was on my mind- but I was unable to, because my head just wouldn’t let me talk. But I could always write it down. Choose a journal you think is beautiful that you’ll want to write in and start writing away.
Date every entry and allow your loved ones to respond to your words. Sometimes the shock of some of the things we have to say can take our loved ones by surprise. Allowing them to soak in everything you have to say to respond earnestly may evoke dimensioned conversations perhaps differed in verbal discourse.
Pass the journal back and forth and make it a habit to write in it at least once a week- but the more often the better. In highschool I had a similar journal with three other friends. We would confide in our struggles with self harm- and encourage each other along the way.
We made our journal special by putting personal touches in it- like photographs and doodles.
Love the Chicken Soup series? Me too! This volume is filled with stories from people in recovery about their struggles. You can simply gift this book and hope your loved one will understand addiction better by peering into the lives of those struggling with it candidly. Or you may endeavor to read the text together. Whatever you can do to help give insight into your struggles, the better it will be for both of you.
9. Matching Pendants/ Bracelets / Charms
Remember friendship necklaces or charms? They’re not too kiddish if you choose something from the jewelry section in a department store- or your favorite mom & pop shop. Buy a matching set, or a cohesive design you and your loved one will enjoy. Tell them they’re recovery pendants that you’ll use to draw strength during the hard times.
I promise you they’ll be touched, and will value their pendant just as much. Want to make your own pendants? Head over to your local metaphysical shop and pick up some beautiful tumbled or raw stones and wire wrap your own matching (or coordinating) recovery charms. I learned how to wire wrap by watching this three minute video. These pendants are simple, but you can make them as elaborate as you like once you get these basics down.
Some of my pendants are pictured. (In fact, I made a batch of these for my mother’s wedding!)
You can choose stones associated with sobriety and recovery, or communication. Some great choices are:
- Rose Quartz
- Clear Crystal Quartz
- Blue Lace Agate
- Lapis Lazuli
- Smoky Quartz
You can pick up 20-22 gauge wire at your local craft store for a couple of dollars (literally). As for tools, if you already own needle nose pliers, you’re good to go. But I will admit mini jewelry pillars work like a charm.
10. Private Home Screening
Okay, this one may be one of the more difficult “gifts.” Score YouTube for documentaries on your drug of choice, self harm- or what have you- and watch the program with your loved one to help them understand what you’re struggling with. If they’re explicit it may be hard for them to watch, but the experience will help you bond with them- while providing insight and understanding.
You can make a playlist of videos before hand so you don’t have to waste anytime looking for them. Try to include a compilation from both sides. People going through the motions, and perspectives from loved ones. You may learn a thing or two, too.
Make sure you’re able to talk about everything. Answer every question. Truly use this time to open up to your loved one.
11. Crystals for Peace, Understanding & Connection
Going back to your local metaphysical store, you can help ground your loved ones with a beautiful crystal pouch! Cleansing stones and programing them for understanding, peace, and connection.
Read more about working with crystals.
12. Healing the Addicted Brain: The Revolutionary, Science-Based Alcoholism & Recovery Program by Harold Urschel
Another critically acclaimed book that will help your loved one understand the struggles you’re going through. Here’s a peek taken from the product page:
“Healing the Addicted Brain is a breakthrough work that focuses on treating drug and alcohol addiction as a biological disease—based on the Recovery Science program that has helped thousands of patients defeat their addictions over the past 10 years. It combines the best behavioral addiction treatments with the latest scientific research into brain functions, providing tools and strategies designed to overcome the biological factors that cause addictive behavior along with proven treatments and medications.
Using this scientific approach, you will learn to conquer the physical factors that keep people tied to drug and alcohol addiction. The proven fact is addiction is not a moral failing or an issue of not having enough willpower. It is a disease of the brain that can and must be treated like other chronic medical illnesses —such as diabetes, hypertension, or asthma—in order to defeat the disease.
This revolutionary program can triple the success rate of patients, from 20-30% to 90%”
13. Collection of Art, Poetry, Music, or Expression of Your Choosing
My mother has been asking for an anthology of my poetry for years now- and I might just give it to her this holiday. (Don’t tell!) Share your creative expressions with your family, giving them the opportunity to peek into the thoughts you keep secreted away.
Sometimes we don’t understand how much our distance can hurt other people unintentionally. Compiling your writing, artwork, lyrics, musical compositions, or other forms of expression help forge deep bonds with our loved ones. If you don’t want to give them originals you can scan copies and print them out- or make duplicates.
Scrapbooks (I have a mild problem, okay?) Serve as a beautiful presentation for poems, lyrics, or works of art.
What did you think of this list? Have anything to add?
About the Author
Alexandrea Holder is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Alexandrea enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.