For individuals affected by substance use disorder the holiday season can sometimes be difficult. Residents at Phoenix House treatment programs in California explore issues associated with the holiday season, learn new coping skills, and gain resilience. They also celebrate with their peers and staff.
Students at Phoenix House Academy in Los Angeles began the season with tree trimming, adding their handmade decorations to a large fir tree in the building’s foyer. A few days later teens celebrated with their families at a gift exchange party. Following carols and cookies, the students enjoyed stockings filled with presents appropriate to the treatment stage, such as clothing, shoes, blankets, stuffed animals, and journals. To celebrate the heritage of many of the clients and their families, Tamale Day is a beloved annual tradition, with adult family members and residents working side-by-side, wrapping and cooking tamales under the supervision of professional staff. Clients then enjoy spending time with family on Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Adults in residential treatment at Phoenix House Venice enjoyed holiday parties, a talent show, Christmas carol sing-alongs, a festive meal, and an exhibition of art by residents. Research shows that treatment is more effective when the relationship between counselors and clients (the therapeutic alliance) is stronger and based on trust and respect, thus benefiting the client. Akilah Templeton, Program Director, played Ms. Santa, with the children of clients picking their favorite toy from those donated by Toys for Tots. Thanks to the dedicated counselors who sought out many generous donors, Phoenix House clients and their families received a variety of gifts this year, including toys, games, tricycles, sports equipment, notebooks, and clothing.
Christmas eve and day at programs in Santa Ana are filled with activities. After a special group session dedicated to holiday triggers, residents enjoyed a basketball game, followed by holiday music and craft time. In the afternoon clients enjoyed karaoke, with rollicking renditions of holiday favorites. Finally a holiday movie screening with cookies, milk, and hot chocolate rounded out the evening. On Christmas Day, clients took part in an outdoor football game, followed by games, and a talent show. In the evening, each resident hosted guests and shared desserts. All staff and clients ended the day with an outdoor movie and popcorn.
Phoenix House staff also celebrated the holidays in a variety of ways. Some sung unique versions of the 12 Days of Christmas, some enjoyed participating in gift exchanges, while others played games such as a version of Jeopardy that tested professional knowledge about addiction and substance abuse. Still others combined elements from Christmas and Hanukkah traditions in multicultural fun. All loved sampling the cuisine at the international potluck, including dishes from the Philippines, China, Poland and Mexico.
For those struggling with drugs or alcohol, we offer a variety of treatment options. If you or your loved one needs help, do not hesitate to call our toll-free number today: 1 888-671-9392.