Why Holiday Stress Can Lead to Increased Substance Abuse

Most people look at the holidays as a happy season, a season where you can catch up with loved ones and friends you haven’t seen all year. However, the holidays can be stressful and dangerous for those who suffer from mental health, addiction, and substance abuse issues.

Blended families have to deal with generations of biases and wounds. Kids and loved ones who are suffering from drug abuse and other internal problems can use the holiday stress we all experience to intensify their own destructive behavior because with all the free time away from school the opportunities are endless for them to “feed the beast”.  For many, drug abuse can seem like a logical escape from the drama.

Tis the season for all the wrong reasons?
November is a time when most addiction and substance abuse centers begin to see an uptick in client/patient intake activity. In general, this is because many teens and young adults end their fall semesters and are home for winter break. This vacation away from school allows an individual suffering from substance abuse and mental illness to escalate their destructive behavior by overindulging in their hometown holiday parties and by spending more time with old friends with bad habits.

Parents who may not have taken notice of the red flags of mental health problems and addiction can pay more attention to their child or loved one because they are home more. They may notice that their son or daughter that’s been away at college has become withdrawn or aggressive. Or, they may notice more overt signs such as drinking more than usual at family gatherings. Be on the lookout for more isolation by a child as it could also be a sign that something is wrong.

Parents should stay connected with their kids.
It’s wise to try and be engaged in the lives of your loved ones all year round. This doesn’t necessarily mean knowing their email passwords or stalking their Facebook, although it is good to monitor their social network activity. It is as simple as being an open channel of communication for them, allowing you to reach out and offer help so they can feel safe coming to you with their problems. However, the root of every addiction and mental health problem does not solely lie on the child or loved one. It is a problem that affects the entire family and as a consequence, all members should be part of the recovery process.

Keep in mind, the holidays aren’t just a time for parents to notice new behaviors in their children or loved ones. It is also a very challenging time for those who are in recovery. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly half of recovering addicts will relapse. It’s a good idea for families of teens and young adults facing mental health and addiction issues to remain vigilant around the holidays. With an abundance of alcohol and friends around during festive activities, triggers are all around. Being in their old bedroom or neighborhood can cause a shift in the recovery process. Or, even the notion of the holidays can send one into depression as it may force them to confront memories they haven’t necessarily dealt with the rest of the year.

Remember the holidays are a special time of the year.
In many respects, it is the most joyous time of year and should remain that way for your family. Still, the holidays serve as a perfect opportunity for parents to spend more time with their children and loved ones, and address alarming behaviors you may have missed during the year. For recovering addicts, it should be a time for families to band together and learn to celebrate in different and new ways that support sobriety and build love and trust amongst its members.

449 Recovery is here to Help
449 Recovery is a drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation center helping people overcome their fears and assisting families to deal with a loved one’s challenges. Through evidence-based treatment plans, we are the light at the end of the tunnel and strive to provide hope and comfort. Whether you or someone you love is suffering around the holidays or any other time of the year, the nightmare can end. Contact us today for that new you, by calling 855.435.7449.

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