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Gift Giving, Depression, and Anxiety: Why Drug Use is Becoming a Holiday Tradition

November 20, 2022 - - 0 Comments

Holiday Depression

Every year, around September and early October, you start really getting excited about the upcoming holiday season. Your memories of past celebrations as a child always remind you of the joy and mystery you experienced every year waiting for Santa to drop off presents. However, that anticipation starts turning to real anxiety around Thanksgiving and into December.

Unfortunately, you start feeling real depression around the middle of December as beautiful holiday decorations surround you, caring loved ones, and a spirit of joy and celebration seem to infuse others. There doesn’t seem to be much of a reason for these feelings, but you just can’t shake them. Sadly, you find yourself compelled to turn to substances like opioids, benzodiazepines, and alcohol to beat your anxiety.

And while you haven’t overdosed yet, you know of people who have overdosed during the holiday season, and you don’t want to become another statistic. Just why is drug use, depression, anxiety, and overdoses so prevalent during the holiday season? Understanding why you feel this way – and the fact that you aren’t alone – may compel you to get the treatment you need to avoid this danger.


Drug Use Skyrockets Around the Holidays

The holidays should be a time of celebration, family togetherness, and joy. Unfortunately, statistics don’t seem to bear that out. For example, a study by the Surveillance for Violent Deaths found that the rates of drug overdose skyrocket during the holiday season. Unfortunately, they also saw that serious violence, car accidents, and even suicides increase around the same time.

drug useIn a related study by the Centers for Disease Control, it was found that a vast majority of suicide victims during the holiday season suffered from an overdose. Among these individuals, about 33 percent had abused alcohol, 16 percent abused opiates, nine percent abused cocaine, and a further eight percent had abused marijuana before their death.

Clearly, alcohol is a particular danger during the holiday season, a fact borne out by a study entitled “Hospitalizations for Alcohol and Drug Overdoses in Young Adults Ages 18–24 in the United States, 1999–2008: Results From the Nationwide Inpatient Sample.” This study took a look at the number of people who were hospitalized due to alcohol abuse during the non-holiday and the holiday seasons.

What they discovered was shocking. The study found that nearly 2,000 underage drinkers were checked into hospitals and addiction treatment centers due to alcohol overdoses during the holiday season. This season stretched from around Christmas to New Year’s Day. This number was a vast increase from the average of about 550 visits during the non-holiday season. In fact, it is a nearly 400 percent increase.

In many cases, these overdoses are due to people just trying to have a good time and overdoing it during the holiday season. Sadly, cutting loose and abusing alcohol and other substances seem inherent for many in the holiday season. Unfortunately, these feelings may be complicated by more severe mental health issues that underline a person’s consistent and persistent use of substances.



Depression and Anxiety Trigger These Issues

depressionThe holiday season is often a time of joy and happiness for many people. Unfortunately, there are also those who experience massive depression and anxiety. There are many reasons these emotions are triggered. First of all, some people may struggle financially to buy presents, throw parties, and create a high-quality holiday experience for their children and themselves.

Even worse, they may have issues with family members that complicate their enjoyment of the holiday season. For example, political debates around the Thanksgiving table may cause serious fights that create lingering family resentments for years to come. Common familial issues during this time can become even more intense as a result.

Moreover, even if a person gets along with their family members just fine, depression and anxiety may still occur because of the commonality of death during the holiday season. Studies have found that death during the holiday season is more common than in other seasons. Even worse, those deaths often have a higher impact on a family because of the time of the year.

All of the anxiety and depression during this time means that people are often trying to find positive – and negative – ways of venting it. People may turn to increased psychological visits to get the help they need for their mental health problems. Unfortunately, many other people will turn to alcohol and other substances to calm their nerves during a stressful time.

People often mask coping drug use – i.e., substance abuse inspired by mental health problems – as merely a good time. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol isn’t treated as a way of managing depression but as a way of cutting loose. Unfortunately, this perception may cause people to address the situation less seriously than it needs to be maintained.



Why People Don’t Take Holiday Drug Use Seriously

holiday drug usePeople who wouldn’t normally try drugs often turn to substances during the holiday season. For example, a person partying on Christmas Eve may try out cocaine or heroin for the first time simply as a way of cutting loose. As a result, they may either end up getting addicted to these substances or experiencing an overdose due to their first-time use of illicit substances.

Why do people act this way during the holiday season? As mentioned before, drug use can become a tradition for people during the holiday season. They are often on vacation from demanding jobs and believe that they deserve the chance to have a little fun or to do things that they wouldn’t normally do, such as smoking marijuana or using meth.

As a result, people – including the addicted and their family members – may not take this substance abuse seriously. Sadly, this may mean that the individuals affected by the problem are more likely to experience overdoses. After all, they will be abusing substances that they have never tried before and may not know how much is safe for them to use.

That occasional use may also make it seem less serious to people than if the individual abused substances throughout the year. Unfortunately, people can overdose on substances like benzos even after one use, which is why this problem needs to be treated just as seriously as regular substance abuse. And those who already abuse substances will need just as much help as those who don’t this holiday season.



How These Struggles Can Create Generations of Problems

One of the most under-looked – but dangerous – issues impacting holiday drug overdose is the influence of parents on their children’s behavior. Children model their behavior around those of their parents and learn how to interact with the world based on their lessons. Moreover, if a child watches their parents abuse alcohol or other substances around the holidays, they may be inspired to do the same later as adults.

For example, let’s say that a child’s parents get together with their family members every year on Christmas Eve and binge drink. There is food available at the party, but the adult family members focus heavily on drinking. Children are around and see their parents behaving in this way and feel inspired to try out the same patterns of behavior when they get older.

Or worse, parents actually start their children on these behaviors during the holiday season as a way of connecting with them. It might be hard to imagine, but parents who are addicted to alcohol or other substances may introduce them to their children because they don’t see a problem with drug abuse. As a result, a child may become dependent on alcohol or other drugs at a young age or may join their parents in binge substance abuse during the holidays.

Beyond these types of actions, a child may also be inspired by tragic events that occur during the holiday season. For example, their father may experience an overdose on cocaine one Christmas and pass away. The child then falls into a state of PTSD that influences their whole life and which makes every holiday season very hard to manage. Even worse, that anxiety and depression cause them to abuse substances as an adult.

Negative patterns of behavior have a way of moving on to future generations and creating problematic holiday traditions that feel impossible to escape. Therefore, individuals who find themselves binging on alcohol or drugs during the holiday season need to understand how treatment and recovery methods like dual-diagnosis help them overcome these issues.



How to Manage These Issues

Unfortunately, substance abuse during the holiday season is an issue that can be hard for people to manage without help. For example, your PTSD triggers may be high during this season because you lost a parent or another loved one during this part of the year. Unfortunately, high volumes of substance abuse increase a person’s chance of becoming the next family member to pass away during the holidays.

Thankfully, there are ways that you can overcome this danger and have a happy holiday season without the risk of overdose. For example, rehab for opiates, alcohol, and methamphetamine work by detoxifying your body from these substances in a controlled way. In most cases, replacement medications will make it easier for you to quit using these substances without experiencing severe withdrawal effects.

mental healthHowever, the mental health element of addiction can make a full recovery seem more difficult than it should be for the average individual. For example, behavioral triggers during the holiday seasons – such as partying the day before Thanksgiving or drinking heavily on New Year’s Eve – may cause a person to fall into a pattern of substance abuse that increases their risk of overdose.

Thankfully, care methods like dual-diagnosis are available for individuals struggling with these patterns of behavior. Dual-diagnosis works by assessing the mental health element of your addiction and helping to manage it. The idea behind it is that mental health concerns and dependence often work hand-in-hand to worsen each other and to create a complicated pattern of behavior.

Dual-diagnosis will treat both of these problems at the same time to create a coherent, simple, and effective treatment plan. Instead of merely trying to detox your body or walk you through the 12 step program, you will receive comprehensive care that will help you to overcome your problems in a way that would otherwise be impossible without help.

Moreover, these care techniques are necessary to help people break the patterns of behavior that make substance abuse such a problem during the holidays. Just as importantly, dual-diagnosis can make it easier for people to manage their anxiety and depression during what is often a stressful period for most people.



Get the Help You Need to Recover

The prevalence of drug overdose deaths during the holiday season is a real tragedy that needs to be better understood by the medical world in general. Too many people have to watch their loved ones suffer from severe mental health issues around this time, and help needs to be more available for those who also experience struggles with addiction.

That’s where we come into play. We are an addiction recovery program that focused on treating the root of substance abuse at its core. For example, we know how to assess mental health issues such as trauma, anxiety, and depression can help you overcome them in a controlled way. In this way, you can be happier during the holidays and prevent yourself from the threat of an overdose.

Just as importantly, we can help you get through the 12-step detox program to avoid serious physical health issues when trying to quit using substances. And if you’re not the one affected, we can help you better understand how to help your loved one get treatment. So please contact us today if you need high-quality dual-diagnosis to quit using heroin, Xanax, benzos, or other addictive substances. Let us help you have a happy and healthy holiday season this year.

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