Recovering with Pride

By: Jeff Zacharias

Jeff Zacharias is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Counselor and Registered Dual Disorder Professional with several years of clinical experience in both the mental health and addictions field. As a therapist, Jeff offers a safe, supportive, non-judgmental environment in order to explore individual needs with a commitment to placing the highest priority on your care. Owner of New Hope Recovery Center in Chicago, his areas of expertise include all forms of addiction, interventions, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex issues, self-injury, eating disorders, trauma and more. Click here to learn more about Jeff.

Sometimes, we must create our own family

Nov 29, 2012

FamilyThe holidays are quickly approaching. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza and many other traditions are just around the corner.  You know what else approaching— stress, and for many, increased anxiety and depression. 

The traditions associated with the holidays often stem from our families of origin and are passed down over time from generation to generation.  It all sounds a bit 1950s Norman Rockwell-ish, but the reality of what constitutes a family in 2012 is much different than that of 50 years ago. Nowhere is this difference more evident than in the LGBT community where families often look much different than that of our heterosexual counterparts.

Due to a myriad of issues—homophobia, rejection of family members due to being gay, religious ideology—many members of the LGBT community have been shunned from their families of origin. 

The sting of rejection, while tough any time of the year, can be most profound during the holidays.  What’s one to do when such emphasis is placed on being with family during the holidays, yet your family may have rejected you for being honest about this integral piece of yourself? Further confounding the difficulties is what to do if you’re struggling with addiction/alcoholism and may or not be in recovery. 

How about reinventing your concept of family? Who says things have to be the way they’ve always been?

The idea of a family needn’t be defined by blood alone. Blood signifies relatives—something given with no choice.  Family can signify anything we want it to be—it implies choice. Choice is a beautiful word for anyone, but has special significance especially for those in the recovery community. It’s an opportunity to set the intention for what your life will look like.   

If you’re not getting what you want and need in your life, go out and seek it—redefine what your family will look like. Unconditional love, trust, healthy communication, compassion, and loyalty—these are some of the characteristics that define what a family should look like. The opportunity to be transparent without the fear of judgment or critique is the cornerstone of what it means to be in a family. 

There are people in the world that will love you and accept you for being LGBT.  There are people in the world that will love and accept for you being in recovery.  It’s a double bonus if you find both! Set a new tradition this holiday season and move forward by painting a new picture of what your family will look like. 


Other articles you might be interested in... 

Spirited Gatherings: 

Sobriety: Getting close and personal 


Don’t let the holidays wreak havoc on your finances.


Andy Olcott  2515 days ago

Well put Jeff. An expanded definition of family can be very healthy.

Diane  2523 days ago

Jeff--this is very true. I have a new family now in recovery and like a real family it took yearsa dn involved births and deaths ...and we celebrate our holidays and lives together. Thank You

Bradd Easton  2536 days ago

A great article. Family of choice is often the only option,

Rate this BlogPost:

2000 characters left


Advertise with Renew

Renew Your life, Better