While holidays can be a lot of fun, it is undeniable that they can also be a stressful time rife with emotional triggers. When families gather, old conflicts and arguments are reignited, and people struggling with addiction or in recovery often fall into old patterns.
Additionally, the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day accounts for the highest spikes in alcohol consumption for the entire year according to American Addiction Centers. Even the day before Thanksgiving is jokingly referred to as Blackout Wednesday.
The reasons that people turn to alcohol during the holiday season go on and on – increased feelings of loneliness, expensive Christmas presents, anxiety about New Year’s resolutions, guilt over past behavior.
For those in recovery, there is also additional pressure to put on a show of being completely recovered and unaffected by the excesses of substance consumption that often accompanies the holidays. Those still struggling with active addiction may also be concerned about letting loved ones down.
There are expensive presents to be bought, deadlines to meet, and people to avoid or impress. Despite this confluence of stress and disorder, this is the time of year when people are least likely to reach out for the help they need. Historically, the holiday season has the lowest admissions rates of the entire year.
Objectively, it makes sense: schedules are full of obligations and nobody wants to miss out or draw attention to their own problems. Unfortunately, these are often the times that people need help the most.
For those confronting the idea of seeking addiction treatment, it is tempting to put it off and start fresh in the New Year. But, the simultaneous increase in partying, stress and turmoil can lead to increased substance use and dangerous consequences.
The holidays can offer the best time to begin a journey to recovery. It is an opportunity to trade judgement and worry for a welcoming and supportive environment full of people who can help. It’s also a good time to take advantage of family and friends, who are usually more empathetic during the holidays, allowing for even more support on the journey to recovery.
Ignoring trigger symptoms when you are recovering from alcoholism or drug addiction is a dangerous mistake. Getting help when you need it will help you get through the holidays. Putting it off in order to try keeping up an appearance might leave you feeling critically overwhelmed and at risk of relapse.
It goes without saying that trying to avoid places where people are drinking is key, but it is more than likely that you will not be able to avoid every one of those situations. So, take the time to figure out what you need to make sure the holidays are still a joyous time. The answer for you might be checking into treatment, and if that’s the case, then there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t.
We all need to take care of ourselves before we can even think about worrying about other people, even our own families. It may sound cliché but think of your sobriety as the best gift you can give yourself and your loved ones this year.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, call us today at 1-877-MyRehab. Our comprehensive continuum of treatment means that we’re available to help everyone in all stages of addiction and recovery.