Whether it’s a holiday/annual event such as Christmas, a special occasion or a birthday, you may be wondering what to buy for that friend or loved one in your life who has been or is in recovery for a substance use disorder (drug or alcohol addiction).
Asking what they want can be problematic because the gifts they may ask for could be related to their substance use, or even make their addiction worse. And if they ask outright for something directly related to their substance use disorder, such as money, drugs, alcohol or drug paraphernalia, it could lead to a conflict at a time when you want to strengthen and celebrate the occasion with them rather than weaken or damage your relationship with them.
This is why you may need to think slightly out of the box when it comes to gift giving.
Here are some great ideas for gifts for a friend or loved one with a drug or alcohol addiction that won’t enable their substance use, won’t hurt their recovery and may even promote their continued efforts to succeed in their recovery.
Selecting the right gift can also show them that there is more to life than substances, which can provide them with more motivation to continue in a positive direction want to try more new things, things that they can enjoy without needing to use or drink on top.
Share An Experience Together & Consider Experience Days
Many people who have a addiction actively seek out sensory experiences and social contact through their drug and alcohol use.
Sharing an experience can be a meaningful way of spending time with someone with an addiction which don’t revolve around substances and yet, can still provide natural highs through enjoyment and excitement.
A different kind of experience might just open them up to seeing that life has a lot to offer and can still be enjoyed, even without needing substances.
It could be something outlandish, such as a flight in a hot air balloon, diving with sharks, wing walking, sky diving and others. You could also consider experience days that are creative such as glass blowing, painting, having a portrait done or something as simple as a meal in a restaurant that provides an experimental sensory experience, such as a raw food cafe or one that features live music. Stay away from places that serve alcohol!
Financial Gifts That Can’t Be Used for Drugs
Although cash may be used for drugs or alcohol for those who are not in recovery, you can give money in different forms so it may not be worth the hassle of your friend or loved one trying to convert it to cash in order to buy drugs or alcohol. Good examples are gift certificates or gift cards, particularly for items you know they need such as food vouchers or you could even pay their gas or electric bill for a month or however long you wish. This then can’t be refunded and used for illicit substances or alcohol.
You can also pay for something that can’t be cashed in but that might enhance their quality of life, such as a magazine subscription, an educational/vocational course, a continuing education program or even a course to improve a hobby or interest they may have already or are interested to try such as photography, vehicle repair, guitar lessons, model making or some other form of creative outlet.
Gadgets Or Knickknacks Unrelated To Drugs Or Alcohol
One of the big attractions of drug or alcohol use is having something to do with your hands. There is often a procedure, even a ritual, associated with drug and alcohol use that can leave idle hands uncomfortable, or may even cause a temptation to return to old negative habits.
Little gadgets such as a small, handheld fidget spinner, stress balls or a musical instrument can fulfil a similar need. A small puzzle, such as a Rubik’s cube can also work.
This is a great option if you don’t have or want to spend a lot of cash, but still want to give a smaller, cheaper, enjoyable gift.
Meditation/Mindfulness products, CD’s & Meditation Equipment
Many addicts in recovery practice some form of meditation or mindfulness exercises each day to ground them for the stresses of the day ahead or to help them relax after a long, hard day.
Things such as:
- Yoga mats or comfy things to sit or relax on whilst undergoing meditation/mindfulness exercises
- Guided mindfulness/meditation CD’s or DVD’s
- Sound making machines/media such as the sounds of rainfall and the ocean ect
- Local mindfulness/meditation courses if they are new to recovery
- Local group classes to build a network of clean/sober friends and provide social interaction
Media Showing The Realities Of Recovery
People with substance use disorders are often fascinated by the lives of others in the same situation, especially if the person is using the same drug. Some books and movies make inappropriate gifts by reinforcing the excitement or promotion of drug or alcohol use.
There are books and movies that do a great job of illustrating the recovery process, showing people can come out on the other side.
One example is Boy George’s autobiography—he took ecstasy and LSD and later heroin but became abstinent as he matured. Another is the movie It’s All Gone Pete Tong, which is funny and deep and gets across the sinister side of cocaine use disorder without being preachy and without cocaine being the focal point of the movie. Eminem’s “Recovery” album is another good choice. Other books such as “Mum, Can You Lend Me Twenty Quid” are also great reads.
Films like Sandra Bullock’s 28 days or you can find other movies like this one by clicking here.
Pets & Animals
Pets and animals can provide a great source of companionship and love. However they also come with the years of physical and financial responsibilities that owning and properly caring for an animal requires. These include the food, water, bedding/sleeping area, toys, treats, vet and healthcare bills, exercise, training, grooming and not to mention the many, many other requires that come with fish, equine, birds or reptiles.
Be weary if you are considering buying an animal or pet for them, and never buy one as a surprise for them, as it may cause detrimental setbacks to both the recovering individual and the animal or pet!
Realistic Self-Help Resources
If your friend or loved one is interested in self-help approaches to recovery, a carefully chosen resource might spur them on to try to get into recovery or work on improving their lifestyle more generally. Particularly helpful are approaches to achieving the goals of substance use disorder without drugs.
The Natural Mind by Dr. Andrew Weil and Free Rides: How to Get High Without Drugs by Douglas Rushkoff and Patrick Wells are good examples. Controlling Your Drinking by William Miller and Ricardo Munoz is a great self-help book for cutting down on alcohol.
Be sure that the book actually fits your loved one’s goals or he or she might feel judged and like you were pushing your own agenda rather than giving a genuine gift.
Relationships with people substance use disorders, whether or not they’re in recovery, can be challenging. However, the support of loved ones can be crucial to getting back on their feet. Keep showing that you care and are willing to support their mutual goals of getting clean and/or sober and living a happier, healthier life in recovery.
Gifts They Can Use For Their Hobby, Interest Or Collection
Part of getting clean or sober and entering recovery is about replacing bad habits with new healthier, enjoyable experiences and activities as many addicts find that they are left with an empty void once substances are removed from their life.
The choice of activities you do or try are only limited by your imagination by here are a few examples to get you going:
- Creative activities like painting, drawing, jewellery making, glass blowing, screen printing, tie dying and anything else that interests you.
- Sporty or outdoor activities like football, tennis, sailing, scuba diving, racing, going to the gym.
- Items they could add to a collection they already have or want to start collecting a particular item or category of items
- Let you imagination run wild. Any new, positive experiences are worth trying once!
Make Them Something Yourself
If you’re limited financially or are a particularly creative person, you could make them something that represents them or the both of you. Sometimes handmade items are much more personal and well received compared to something that’s simply picked up off a shelf and bought.
You can find many ideas and tutorials online. Experiment and be creative. You never know, you might also pick up a new hobby or interest in the process too that you can do or both of you could do together!
Items Which Promote Motivation In The Receiver
Having a physical representation of the day they quit drugs or alcohol can help to strengthen their recovery journey as they have something physical to look at when times get tough and secondly, it gives the wearer something to remind them that they have a friend or loved one who loves, cares and supports them.
It also gives them a positive memory of the day they received it, and as such, helps to create a stronger bond between gift giver and gift recipient.
Also, by providing a piece of jewellery that has custom dates, names and other personal information means that the piece of jewellery cannot be sold as the information on it wouldn’t be appropriate for anyone else. You may also want to ensure that the piece of jewellery cannot be broken down and sold in its constituent components for money. For example, Pandora offer bracelets with collectible charms which may be sold individually for money. We would recommend staying away from this type of jewellery.
- Things that represent or show their current clean/sober time or can add to the longer they are clean or sober.
- Items they can use around their home to benefit their recovery.
- Things that can make getting to and from recovery activities such as fellowship or group meetings, courses or activities.
- The list is endless.
Where To Buy Recovery Items?
You can find more like this one by doing a search online, by visiting Etsy, eBay, Amazon, local crafters, buy and sell pages on social media and others.
Links & Suggestions For Recovery Related Gifts
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