Holidays can be a depressing time for anyone, especially those who abuse drugs and alcohol. For abusers, depression can lead to an increased use of substances. Families and friends need to be alert to the effects that the added pressures of the holiday season can bring to an abuser. According to a survey of recovering addicts and alcohol abusers, here are the top ten situations that lead to depression and an increase in drug or alcohol abuse.
1. The holiday season is a time when money problems really come home to an abuser. Due to employment issues or spending all their money on drugs, many abusers don’t have money to buy the presents that they would like for their loved ones. It’s easier not to think about it.
2. Family members are more likely to try to ignore the abuse problem, even to the point of not noticing if the abuser spends very little time at holiday gatherings. According to those surveyed, the time spent away from the gathering is time spent getting high.
3. No matter what they say, most substance abusers realize that an entire year has passed and unless something changes, the New Year isn’t going to be any different. This is hard to think about. It is easier to bring in the New Year in a fog of alcohol and drugs.
4. There are constant reminders through the media that this is supposed to be a “happy time” leaving the abuser feeling left out. They aren’t happy, but these reminders accentuate any unhappiness.
5. During the Season most of us visit with relatives that we rarely see. Many substance abusers don’t have much to say about what has transpired in their life over the last year – life hasn’t progressed. This can push the abuser away from family gatherings. It also can contribute to guilt over receiving presents that may not feel deserved.
6. Sometimes relatives or families have contributed to the initial situation that caused the substance abuse to begin with and their presence can be a painful reminder, causing more substance abuse.
7. Along with the holidays is a message that this is a time for over indulgence. While for most of us, this means extra cookies and candy, for the abuser, it is an excuse to over-indulge in substances.
8. The overriding holiday message is that this is a time for celebration. For most abusers, there is the ill-fated idea that celebration includes drugs or alcohol. Most abusers can’t control their habit and tend to go overboard during this time.
9. Most abusers are generally depressed, due to the damage that drugs have done to their bodies, and minds. Holidays stress can add to an already compromised physical and mental state, leaving little energy to fight cravings or do the “right thing”.
10. For those abusers who have children, they are often estranged, or even if they see their children during the holidays, feelings of guilt and inadequacy as a parent can escalate, causing more abuse.
These are also the 10 ten reasons, why the best time for drug or alcohol treatment can be during the holiday season.