Selfishness and self-centeredness is what the 12 Step rooms such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) consider the root of the problem of addiction or alcoholism. Basically, this defines those suffering from addiction and alcoholism as lacking consideration for others, concerned primarily with one’s own personal pleasure, profits or desires, and overall simply preoccupied with oneself and one’s own affairs.


While addiction and alcoholism are defined one specific way in the 12 Step rooms of recovery (the “hopeless variety”), and not everyone that enters recovery is an “addict” or “alcoholic” as defined by the 12 Step programs of recovery, we do know that most people that find recovery fall somewhere on the substance use disorder (SUD) spectrum. Additionally, for anyone that falls on that substance use disorder spectrum and has received therapy or treatment for their issues, they all display some traits of the “hopeless variety” individual as defined in the 12 Step rooms. Often, one of those characteristics is selfishness and self-centeredness.


Which brings us to the holiday season and how many people in early recovery approach the holidays. Due to this often selfish and self-centered attitude, many people that are early in recovery believe it is the job of their family, friends and loved ones to change their holiday behavior and conform to the needs of the individual that is early in recovery.  This could mean not serving alcohol during family holiday parties, or that loved ones that partake in recreational use of substances shouldn’t be invited to events or that touchy or stressful subjects should not be broached during the holiday season, as this may “trigger” or set up the person in early recovery. This is a very self-centered attitude or viewpoint.  While it is wonderful when friends, families and loved ones offer to change their behaviors or create a recovery-friendly environment for their loved one that has recently found sobriety or recovery, and those people should be commended and praised for their love and support, when these things do not happen the result is that the person in early recovery often becomes angry, resentful or feels betrayed. That is an unfair and unreasonable reaction.


It is not the job of our friends, families and loved ones to change their behaviors, beliefs or social settings to suit the needs of the person in early recovery. For far too long, the person suffering from alcoholism, addiction or substance use disorder has held their family, friends and loved one’s hostage with their behaviors and ruined what should be happy holiday events. To now expect them to conform to the needs of the person in early recovery while for years they had to cope with the addictive behaviors and reactions are unfair. It is the job and the responsibility of the person in early recovery to learn new, positive coping mechanisms and learn to live in the real world without expecting others to change their behavior. The person in early recovery needs to lean on the tools they have learned in treatment and in recovery to adapt and react in a healthy, positive manner. This will often mean that when the holidays come, the person in early recovery needs to have a plan in place for if things get “dicey” or they feel like they may struggle in certain circumstances. This means planning the holidays around what they need to sustain their recovery. This means utilizing and leaning on their recovery and community supports. This may even mean skipping certain events. What it must include is both putting their recovery first while also planning for if they feel they may run into danger. This also means not viewing the holidays through a selfish and self-centered lens, but rather realizing they had taken away from their family and friends for so long and now their recovery is not a time to rejoice in how well they are doing, but rather is simply a opportunity to be present at the holiday celebrations and for the first time in a while, be part of the family.


If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or dual diagnosis issues, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis addiction treatment in the Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at For more information on all of our drug addiction, alcohol addiction and co-occurring disorder services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at

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