MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Holidays are a time for those to open presents, gather, celebrate and get ready to begin another year. However, for some people, the holidays can be a very difficult time of year. Recovering drug addicts say this time of year is challenging to get through, but they are celebrating their sobriety.

Mobile native, Kevin Jones, has been a recovering drug addict since 2018 after a 10 year battle with painkillers. He says a bad car accident drove him to painkillers. He says it was a long road to recovery.

“A walk of recovery takes discipline,” said Jones. “And it takes a lot of effort. It’s a lot more natural and a lot easier for me to do what I’m not supposed to do. You know, Paul even talks about it in the Bible, the things I don’t want to do, or the things I do the things I want to do, or the things I don’t do. And that’s because our natural tendency, as humans are human nature is to do wrong or do what’s easy to settle instant gratification. A lot of it is the environment and the circumstances, you know, it’s all a mental thing as well. It’s mental and spiritual and physical that all tie into an emotional, everything.”

After running into some legal troubles, he was indicted on federal charges and went to jail in 2018. He served until 2021. He says serving time and turning over to Christianity helped him on the road to recovery.

“But like I said, the communication, the transparency, that you have to have, you know, not only as someone in sobriety and in recovery, but also someone of spirituality that’s walking with the Lord,” said Jones. “Because that’s how the Lord uses you, is by you, sharing your struggles that you’ve been through and how the Lord comforted you and brought you through that to help someone else get through the same thing. You know, and we were able, we were able to get through it this year. It was difficult. It was sad, but it was good.

He was able to join a drug-recovery program while serving time, and he says that helped him during his recovery process.

Fast-forward to 2022, Jones says this is the first Christmas he’s celebrated sober, and he welcomed a new baby boy to his family with his wife two months ago.

Other recovering who’ve been sober for over a decade say the holidays still can be a challenging time.

Kristy Wells of Fairhope has been sober since 2007.

She says the holidays still are difficult because she feels that family members can be judgmental.

“I still feel judged, sometimes, like you’re talking about the black sheep, mother of the family,” said Wells. “And I feel it sometimes from people. You know, they don’t sometimes know what to say to me. And it’s meant all these years later, and you know, I just want to feel understood. And it’s, it’s hard to understand something like this, if you haven’t been there. And I’ve been there and been through it with hundreds of people.”

She says before her recovery process, there were times family members didn’t want to associate with her. She says that motivated her during the recovery process.

“My children didn’t want anything to do with me for a while,” said Wells. “And they had every right to feel that way. Because if you don’t know anything about addicts, the number one thing you need to learn is we lie about anything. Stuff that you don’t even need to lie about. I lied about it. And you become so unreliable. You know, I’ll tell you, Yes, I’m going to come to dinner with you this evening. And as an addict, I would just not go. I just wouldn’t show up. And I was physically there for my children, thank God, and they were fed and not mistreated. But mentally I was not all there for them.”

Virginia Guy, the Executive Director of the Drug Education Council says the holidays will increase the likelihood of someone falling into addiction or overdosing, so it is important to take preventable measures to ensure a situation like that does not happen.

“During the holidays, especially, it’s important for people in recovery, to stay very connected to their recovery community, and to also stay accountable to their sober friends,” said Guy. “We also want to encourage anybody if they’re going to parties or out with friends, to be sure to take a sober friend with them, and to kind of plan ahead and know what their relapse triggers are, and kind of plan for those.”

Guy says the holidays are the most important time to speak with loved ones who may be suffering with drug addiction.

“We can connect them with tips on how to stay sober, we can also talk with families about how they can help support their sober loved ones in order to maintain sobriety during the during the holidays, because that’s also a very important thing the family is part of the problem, sometimes it’s also part of the solution,” said Guy. “So we want to make sure everybody’s aware of this during the holidays, were available to talk to friends, loved ones, people in recovery, people supporting people in recovery, about ways that they can help.”

Guy says the Drug Education Council offers prevention, intervention and recovery support programs to help those who may struggle with addiction.