Rules of the ‘Holiday Road’

by Nancy Vericker
December 7, 2020

The holidays are coming up as fast as a V8 sports car speeding on a super-highway.




And for families that have a loved one with a substance use disorder, this time of year makes for complicated, sometimes even heartbreaking scenarios.


Throw in for good measure the fact that we must negotiate the rough terrain due to the Covid-19 pandemic that is sweeping the country.


And it feels like: Buckle up for the holidays.


How can we navigate the bumps, potholes, hairpin turns and dangerous intersections on the roadway of family life through the holidays in the midst of the disease of substance use disorder?


As an analogy, safe driving rules of the road can point us in a good direction. We all learned when we got a driver’s permit that those rules kept us safe and sound in almost any travel situation. We can apply safe rules to our family situation as well.


Their guidance offers strategies on how to steer clear of dangerous, emotionally- charged patterns of behavior resulting from our loved one’s substance use disorder.


So, especially during the coming weeks, let’s remember some tried and true “rules of the road.”


Full Stop at Flashing Red Lights

Always heed the flashing red lights warning of the rough intersection of Confrontation Ahead. Hit the brakes hard. Carefully look out for incoming vehicles speeding dangerously towards you  before proceeding on your way.



A yield sign warns there may be Something Ahead that requires slowing down. Don’t rush in. Proceed with caution. Moderate speed.


Green Light. Red Light. Yellow Light

These signals control traffic flow and reduce the aggravation of jams and delays. Hit the gas on green. Full stop on red. Slow your roll when there is a yellow warning light.


Stay In Your Lane

Avoid side swipes and head-on crashes by keeping your wheels within the confines of your own piece of the road.


Rest Stop

Self-care is a primary rule of the holiday journey. Do something kind for you. Take a nap. Bathe in warm bubbles. Schedule a mani-pedi. You deserve it. 

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Nancy Vericker

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  1. Thank you, Nancy.

    In no particular order,

    OBEY THE SPEED LIMITS There’s no need to go too fast. Not everyone is going the same speed. It’s OK to slow down. Enjoy your time without having to use it to have the big conversations all at once, or maybe at all.

    DON’T LITTER Pay attention to what you say. No need to drop thoughtless or snarky comments as you go along, even if others sometimes do.

    NO PARKING Keep moving. Don’t take up a spot on the couch or at the kitchen table and stay there. Move around, change your point of view. Wonder what others have been doing and be curious about what’s been better for them.

    SHOULDER CHECK WHEN YOU CHANGE LANES Watch for others and how they’re doing. It’s not just all about you, but it is all about your safety.

    Safe and happy holidays everyone. Janet

  2. I love the way you said this, using rules of the road
    during the holidays. Thanks for a new take on keeping all merry and bright..

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