As the holidays approach, thoughts turn to family gatherings, parties at work and get-togethers with friends to celebrate the season. Holidays are often a time when alcohol flows freely and can become a problem for many people. The National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration notes that 38 percent of alcohol-related traffic fatalities occur during the Christmas period, significantly above the 31 percent average for the rest of the year. The rate jumps to 41 percent around New Years. Being aware of some cause of holiday drinking can help you to reduce the risk of overindulgence.
The gift-gifting season can make already-busy schedules even more hectic. Many people begin to feel overwhelmed and unable to cope with the many demands and expectations. Drinking is often used to reduce these feelings of anxiety and distress. However, this reliance on alcohol to get through the holidays can reinforce the substance abuse habit.
Although the holidays are a time for families to spend time together, this forced togetherness can often highlight long-standing conflicts that can cause tension. Many people use alcohol to reduce this tension. For the problem drinker, the increased consumption of alcohol can create additional problems of unrestrained remarks and unruly behavior.
Another area of concern during the holidays is the increased spending and financial pressure. Gifts, parties and holiday travel can make a significant dent in household budgets that can damper the pleasure of the season. Many people are tempted to bury these concerns in holiday drinking and often find they have additional problems due to the excessive drinking.
Expectations To Be Happy
During the holidays, everyone is expected to be “happy.” If people are experiencing a difficult time, they are expected to put their bad feelings aside for the sake of the festivities. This expectation can often lead to heavy drinking to mask the bad feelings that are just below the surface.
Another factor that causes excessive alcohol consumption during the holidays is social pressure. Individuals may be invited to go for a holiday drink with a number of different friends. Friends may even encourage you to consume more alcohol than you know you should. These occasions can be difficult to avoid without appearing to be rude, but you can switch to non-alcoholic beverages and still enjoy the conviviality of the season with your friends.
Opportunities To “Cover” Excessive Drinking
Because so many holiday gatherings provide alcohol, problem drinkers can utilize the constant presence of alcoholic drinks to cover the substance abuse problem. In this way, their drinking can just be part of the festivities and not a cause for concern . What was just occasional “sneaking” of a drink can become a full-fledged binge with a variety of negative consequences, including DUIs, sexual misbehavior and physical aggressiveness. These issues can lead to broken relationships during the holidays and profound feelings of self-loathing and regret.
Maintaining Moderation During the Holidays
Health experts recommend allowing yourself a specific number of drinks during the party and alternating with water or soft drinks for the duration of the event. You should also ensure that you consume food during the party to ensure that the alcohol level in your blood does not exceed reasonable amounts.
Holiday Risks For Substance Abuse
Individuals who have problems with alcohol addiction must be especially alert to the temptations of the holiday season. The increased social activity and presence of alcohol can often lead to relapse. Addiction experts recommend avoiding friends and circumstances that are associated with your former drinking patterns. Start new traditions that don’t involve the use of alcohol. Stay in touch with your support group or counselors. If you have a problem with alcohol, reach out to a treatment facility for support and care during the holiday season. Supported detox and cognitive behavioral therapy can restore sanity to alcoholics’ lives throughout the year.
If you or a loved one engage in the abuse of alcohol during the holiday season, contact a treatment center to begin the rehab and recovery process. Start the New Year right by choosing the road to sobriety.