During the holidays, school is out, shopping malls are filled with shoppers, and the days are filled with celebrations. For most people, the holidays bring joy and excitement. However, for some, it can produce large amounts of stress. While most people can find coping mechanisms that do not cause any physical harm, people who are struggling or have struggled with addiction this can be challenging. The holiday season can bring about both bad and good emotions and stress. Whether it’s the excitement of a possible engagement, the anxiety of choosing the right gift, the financial burden of holiday spending, or the grieving over a recent loss, there are many things that can cause stress during this time of the year. This amount of excessive stress can sometimes trigger a number of negative patterns for some people. Stress is considered to be the number one cause of drug and alcohol relapses making the holidays harder for people who struggle with addiction. According to the Surveillance for Violent Deaths, the rate of suicides, violence, drug overdoses and automobile accidents increases significantly during the holiday season. The majority of these cases are related to drug and alcohol abuse caused by stress. According to the Center for Disease Control, 16% of suicide victims during the holiday season tested positive for the use of opiates. The increase of drug and alcohol use does not only affect the victims, but also the people around them (family, co-workers, friends etc.) making it crucial for everyone to know the warning signs as well as treatment options for these people who are struggling with addiction.
Warning Signs of Addiction or Dependence include:
- Sudden changes in behavior (becoming unreliable, isolating oneself from friends or family)
- Physical changes such as loss of weight, sores on face arms or legs, dental problems, or an overall dishevelled appearance
- Lack of attention to appearance and personal hygiene
- Red bloodshot or glassy eyes
- Mood swings and aggressive behavior
Treatment options for Individuals Battling Addiction:
- Inpatient and outpatient treatment centers
- Strong emotional support from friends, family, and co-workers
- Reduction of stress
There is no easy solution for tackling stress during the holiday season, but knowing the signs and treatment options can keep us safe from the dangers of battling addiction. For more information about signs of addiction and treatment options, visit cdc.gov.