The holidays are meant to be a special time of the year when family and friends can come together and enjoy the spirit of togetherness, regardless of what religion a person follows. Unfortunately, the holiday season sometimes also brings with it increased rates of substance and alcohol abuse.
Substance abuse can be detrimental for a family any time of the year, but it is especially disheartening during the holidays. Family members need to fully understand this rise in substance abuse if they hope to help their loved ones through it.
Why Substance Abuse Increases around Holidays
Like many other disorders, substance abuse can be caused by several factors. Unfortunately, these factors become prevalent during the holiday season.
Unreal Expectations – Everyone has seen the beautiful portrayals on television of affluent families having the most magical holiday season ever. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for most families. Especially in the current economy, many families are struggling to just get by. This can cause anxiety and depression in an individual who feels as if he is not living up to familial and societal expectations. This depression and anxiety often leads to substance abuse.
Financial Obligations – Regardless of a person’s religious affiliations, or lack thereof, the holiday season often leads to increased financial obligations. The feeling of responsibility to buy gifts for everyone and make the season special while still handling normal financial obligations can make a person feel as if the world is bearing down on them. These individuals will sometimes find release in alcohol or drugs.
SAD – SAD isn’t just an emotion that people feel; it actually stands for seasonal affective disorder. This is a disorder that causes depression during the holidays due to the low light of the winter months. The long, cold and dark winter months can cause depression which may make a person believe alcohol and drugs are their only escape. Unfortunately, these substances can be detrimental when combined with depression.
There are several reasons beyond the aforementioned that can lead to depression, stress and anxiety during the holiday season. Sadly, our Orlando criminal defense lawyer tells us they also see an increase in crimes linked to the abuse and misuse of prescription drugs, alcoholism and other drugs during the holiday season. Fortunately, there are ways in which a family member can help their effected loved one.
Supporting at Risk Loved Ones – There are several ways in which a person can help their loved ones get through the sometimes stressful holiday season without turning to alcohol or drugs. Taking a few proactive steps can mean the world for an at risk family member or friend.
Take Alcohol out of the Picture – The easy availability of alcohol at holiday functions is another reason many people turn to alcohol during this season. If at all possible, this should be completely avoided. Get-togethers can be hosted without providing alcohol, and when alcohol is available, it shouldn’t be a centerpiece of the party. The party should revolve around games, music or even talking. Non-alcoholic alternatives should always be served.
Don’t Add to Stress – The extreme stress during the holiday season can be detrimental for at risk people, so loved ones should try to reduce this stress. It can sometimes be as easy as taking over a few tasks for the loved one. It’s also important to let an individual know that the holiday season doesn’t have to be ‘perfect’ to really be perfect. Holidays are about loved ones; not money or objects.
Just be There – Loneliness during the holidays can easily lead to depression. Someone who feels as if they aren’t loved or cared for is probably sad throughout the year, but the holidays amplify this feeling. It’s important to let loved ones know that they really do matter. Simply just being there or being someone to talk to is sometimes enough to keep a loved one out of a holiday funk.
Substance and alcohol abuse are major problems within our country. They lead to numerous societal ills and can completely destroy a family. It’s unfortunate that what is supposed to be the happiest time of the year can bring with it such a detrimental increase in substance abuse. Family members need to be proactive in protecting their loved ones, especially during the increased risk period of the holiday season.
Guest Author: Legal researcher Shelby Warden contributes articles for the Orlando criminal defense lawyer team at the law firm of Katz & Phillips. They represent clients facing drug charges and understand that these types of charges can have a devastating effect on the rest of your life. Good people make mistakes and deserve the help and support of their friends and family, especially during the holiday season.