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School is almost out and the malls are packed. Turkey Day, X-mas and New Years are around the corner. For a lot of people this means lots of parties, booze and food. But for others, the holidays can be a time of stress and the use of alcohol and drugs increase during the holiday season.
The holidays are triggers for both the good and the bad. Some people cope with stress by eating. Others cope with the stress by large volumes of alcohol or drugs. The holiday season can be a dangerous time for recovering addicts avoiding relapse or those who have not come to the realization that they have embarked on a path to drug or alcohol addiction.
Unfortunately, the holidays can be dangerous times. Car Accidents, drug overdoses, suicides, violence and domestic disputes increase dramatically. A lot of those incidents are directly related to alcohol and drug abuse. 33% of holiday suicides test positive for alcohol and another 16% of holiday suicides account for drugs. Almost 50% of the holiday suicides are directly attributable to drugs and alcohol abuse.
Adults are often placed under stress during the holidays. Personal issues and family conflicts often top the list of stress triggers. Sometimes getting together with other family members creates avenues for excessive drinking or “drugging.” Other family members are often not liked and the escape is substance abuse.
The holidays are an expensive time of year. Often parents or families will over extend themselves by purchasing lavish gifts and dealing with the financial aftermath at a later time when the credit card bills are due. In general, it is well documented that “buying” or being a “shopaholic” creates a euphoria that is similar to alcohol or drug intake. Spending money on gifts that you cannot afford immediately creates a sub-conscious stress that is often delayed and masked. A good rule of thumb; if the cost exceeds your current bank account balance don’t buy it. Wait for a sale or save up more money until you can buy the item and still have money in reserve. If you feel pressured into a purchase, express that it is not in your budget and everyone will understand. More and more families are spending less on Christmas and waiting for everything to go on sale the following day.
Children are also impacted during the holiday season. Peer pressure, family problems and financial matters also affect children. Stress from parents can also be transmitted to their offspring. Adolescents often attend parties and activities that involve the use of drugs or alcohol. Younger inexperienced children are often introduced to drugs or alcohol for their first time during the holiday period.
During the holiday, it is important to sit down with your son or daughter and explain that there are alternatives to using drugs and alcohol. Your children should go to parties with similar children who do not drink or smoke. They should stick together and support each other. The children should focus on conversation, eating, drinking non-alcoholic beverages, dancing, listening to music and playing games. Always let your son and daughter know that you are just a phone call away if they wish to leave the party.
While the holidays are a time to celebrate, we must also be cognizant that more drug addicts and alcoholics are created during this time of year.
Have a safe and healthy holiday season and support those who need it.