Why Does Drug and Alcohol Abuse Spike During the Holidays?
December is considered one the deadliest months of the year as drunk driving accidents increase. It is also a time when stress and anxiety can increase the rate of depression as well as drug abuse. It is often during this time of year that addicts may ignore their drug or alcohol abuse in order to not miss out on any family gatherings, company parties, and other festivities.
There are many reasons why substance abuse can increase during the holiday season.
- Stress. Worrying about gifts, accepting all the invitations that have been extended, money, family get-togethers and so much more add to the stress of the season. Unfortunately, it is under duress that using drugs or alcohol as a way to handle it all can seem like a logical idea.
- Isolation. Whether it’s isolating themselves from family or friends, many feel that their social circle will not accept them if they don’t behave as they did during their addiction. As a result, individuals may isolate themselves during this time of year to avoid social events.
- Holiday Grieving. For some, the holidays can be a painful reminder of good or bad memories. They may grieve past behaviors or their past life, while others may not have friends or family to spend the holidays with. These feelings of sadness and loneliness could lead to depression and increase the risk of substance abuse.
- Lack of Support. Temptation during the holidays is all too common. From alcohol to the encouragement to “just have one,” can lead to substance abuse and relapse.
Getting Help during the Holiday Season
With so many triggers and temptation during the holiday season, everyone can greatly benefit from support and some tips in dealing with alcohol and drug cravings.
- Talk with the host. If you’re comfortable disclosing your addiction or the host knows of your condition, talk with the party host about what alternatives will be available for non-drinking guests. If you want options, be a gracious guest and bring your own mix of non-alcoholic drinks.
- Enjoy sweet treats. Satisfying the part of the brain triggering alcohol cravings can help stave off those triggers. Enjoy some sweet treats when a craving strikes. If you’re worried about holiday weight gain, be sure to get some exercise which can also increase your endorphins.
- Limit media exposure. Unfortunately, alcohol advertisements become more frequent during this time of year. Limit your exposure to advertisements as best as possible, you may even want to block certain companies from your social media profiles.
- Make a plan. Whether it’s attending festivities with a friend in long-term sobriety or having people you can call when the moment is necessary – be sure to have a plan in mind for handling tough situations.
- Limit your time. Don’t be afraid to attend events and limit your time there. It’s always good to spend time with friends and family, but also remember that your health comes first which means you may not want to be in uncomfortable situations.
Lastly, attend meetings. Destination Hope offers alumni meetings, family meetings and 12-step meetings every week. Attend meetings as frequently as you need to in order to get the help and support you need this holiday season.