The Holiday Season is a time of joy, rejuvenation, and celebration. Some people thrive this time of year! They cannot wait to decorate their house, gather with family and friends, and overindulge with food and, of course, a beverage or two. During the holidays, people should be happy, celebrate, and socialize. The pressure is real, and failing to meet these expectations can be too overwhelming for some. Financial stress, family dynamics, and forced social situations serve as triggers for someone struggling with alcohol dependency. As reported in Forbes magazine 2006 “Ten Reasons to Drink during the Holiday” according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, the $49 billion distilled-spirits industry makes more than 25% of its profits from Thanksgiving to the New Year.
Consumption of Alcohol is Part of the Holiday Culture
This time of year, the media overwhelms us with advertisements that promote alcohol consumption. Images of colorful cocktails and sparkling wines are everywhere. Parties at work, gathering with friends, and family celebrations often are centered around alcohol use. Outside influences and social expectations provide ample opportunity for alcohol consumption.
The balance between living up to social expectations and remaining sober is difficult. Often you are expected to attend family gatherings or workplace events, and planning can help.
Bring your own. Bringing a non-alcoholic beverage, favorite dish, or sweet treat to a home gathering is a simple way to control the situation and ensure the right options are available for you at the event.
Have an exit strategy. Whether a casual home gathering or a work-event, having an exit plan is helpful. If someone tries to give you an alcoholic beverage one too many times, and you begin to feel pressured, stressed, or uncomfortable, it is probably time to leave. Whether it is your car or calling an Uber, the means of transportation is essential. If you bring a guest to the party, make sure they are aware you may want to leave at any time during the event, and they will be supportive of that decision.
Staying Home and Isolation
Another option to avoid the temptations of a social gathering is to stay home. But this can also serve as a test to someone trying to stay sober. The Pandemic has changed the way we live, socialize, and connect, and this year and the Holidays are quite different for everyone. Addiction is a disease of isolation, but there is a difference between social distancing and social isolation. While attending holiday gatherings can trigger the urge to drink, the inability to interact with friends and family in a personal setting can have the same effect.
An increase in access to alcohol is undoubtedly contributing to the problem. Restaurants have coupled food take out with drinks to go. Curbside alcohol pick-up and online alcohol and wine delivery are now available in many communities.
”Some people have responded to the stress and social isolation brought on by the outbreak by drinking more,” says George F. Kobb, the director of the National Institutes of Health National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “Using alcohol as a coping mechanism leads down a slippery slope to contracting an alcohol use disorder.” Many are abusing substances to cope with stress and isolation. AARP August 24, 2020.
Holiday stress and pandemic fatigue are a troublesome combination. Whether you are struggling with alcohol dependency, are in recovery, or worried about a family member or friend, it is essential to know that you are not alone.
Connecticut Addiction Medicine has a variety of treatment plans in place to help you through this Holiday Season. If you are feeling isolated or vulnerable, our providers are available for in-person and telehealth appointments.
We offer comprehensive treatment for alcoholism tailored to every individual. Our plan approach includes detoxification, guidance for mental health services including individual and family therapy, a proven medication therapy, and many more alternatives.
For assistance or more information, please visit www.ctaddictionmedicine.com.
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