Breaking News
More () »

Mental Health and the Holidays: Battling substance abuse around the holidays

Overwhelming stress can lead to bad coping habits and if you struggle or have struggled with substance abuse, the added stress of the holidays can be destructive.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Substance abuse is a disease that affects many, and those who are on the road to recovery, may face setbacks during the holiday season, expert Wendy Reeves from a Partnership for a Drug Free Community gives us insight as to why this may be

"During the holidays, for all of us, there's a lot of hugging, a lot of eating, a lot of catching up to do," Reeves states. "And for people who struggle with a substance use disorder, the stress of worrying about things, whether that's about money or gifts or parties or families, those get togethers, just to name a few of those things, can leave them sometimes feeling overwhelmed and confused by them."

According to the American Addiction Centers, besides the Fourth of July, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day is when many people find themselves drinking the most alcohol. According to Dr. Julia Chester, Professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences at Purdue monitoring your behavior is key.

 "When we have physiological responses to stress, that may trigger a craving, relief from that stress," Dr. Chester shares. "And that's why individuals, increase their drinking during the holidays and why it's important to monitor that behavior."

The first step into monitoring that behavior is knowing your triggers. 

"Once they're able to identify what triggers them, taking notice of what those warning signs are," Reeves shares. "Thought patterns and perhaps an unhealthy way or things that make them think about seeking out unhealthy situations, those are the things. First, identify and then figure out how to limit them."

Once you identify your triggers, create a plan

"One of the most important things is to plan ahead," Reeves shares. "Have a plan and also rehearse. Kind of come up with your answers ahead of time and practice those. If somebody offers you something that you don't want, how are you going to say no to that? or if somebody asks you, well, how's your recovery going? things that you may not have thought about, but things that may put extra stress on you." 

Lastly, know that help is available

"If you're worried about being in a situation where there may be temptations, take an accountability partner along with you," Reeves shares. "But remember that reaching out, it does show vulnerability on your part, but it also the person that you're reaching out to is helpful to them because you're allowing them to be in service to you as well."

"We have a peer support specialist here on our staff and she will be available during those holidays so people can continue to call even though our office is going to be closed, people can call."

Visit a Partnership for a Drug Free Community's website for resource information.

Before You Leave, Check This Out