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Substance Abuse During the Holidays: A Not So Wonderful Time of Year for Some

by  on  News & Resources

Thanksgiving through New Year’s is the most dangerous time of year for anyone trying to maintain sobriety from addiction.  It is also the most dangerous time of year to be on the road.  There are more alcohol-related traffic fatalities reported between Thanksgiving and New Year’s than any other time of the year.  In fact, studies show that cases of depression, drunk driving, suicide and domestic violence all increase during the holidays. 

Your Denver personal injury attorney points out that there are a myriad of reasons why alcohol and drug abuse increases during the holiday season.  Identifying the triggers that can lead to substance abuse is critical to preventing abuse.

I’ll Be Home For Christmas

The famous song by Bing Crosby brings to mind images of togetherness and family, intended to give feelings of happiness and warmth.  All too often, however, togetherness and family give some people feelings that are quite the opposite.  The stress of family gatherings or the loneliness of being separated from family can upset the precarious recovery of an addict or lead to substance abuse of the depressed.  The financial stress associated with this time of year — festivities, special meals, gifts, celebrations, charities — can lead to extra work hours or even extra jobs, causing fatigue and more stress.  Drinking alcohol or taking drugs to cope with all the demands and emotions of the season can start people down a very dangerous path. The Centers for Disease Control published a study in 2006 finding that suicide victims frequently tested positive for alcohol or illicit drugs, with 33 percent testing positive for alcohol, 16 percent for opiates, 9 percent for cocaine and 8 percent for marijuana.

SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, can exacerbate the problems of this time of year.  For people who are sensitive to seasonal differences in light and darkness, particularly to diminished amounts of daylight, the stress of the holidays will be magnified by the coming winter solstice (the time of year when the days are shortest).

Auld Lang Syne

This famous Scottish phrase is used to say good-bye to the old year at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s.  Set to an old Scottish folk tune, it is a famous New Year’s song sung at almost every New Year’s party at midnight, when many party-goers are not quite sober…or downright drunk.  But with all the partying that goes on during the holiday season, how is substance abuse best avoided?

Experts advise having a plan.  Always include designated drivers and support people when going to parties where alcohol (or worse) will be.  Minimize stress.  Additionally, whatever triggers anxiety, whether it is family, shopping, or work, recognize that it is causing stress and develop ways to lessen it.  Also, decrease the number of gatherings, limit shopping and set boundaries at work.  Improved self-care during the holiday season is important, as is enhanced support.  Taking care of ourselves is often the best gift we can give.

Contact an Attorney

If you have been injured due to someone who was impaired by alcohol or drugs, or if you would like more information on how to prevent substance abuse during the holidays, contact Jordan Levine at the Levine Law Firm today.