For people with addiction issues, the holiday season can be a difficult time. While most people look forward to time with their families, parties, and big gatherings, for those who struggle with substance abuse it can be a stressful and lonely period. Elevated levels of anxiety and stress can add to higher depression rates, and for a person with substance abuse issues, this can trigger a period of increased usage or a relapse. A Denver detox center is the best place to monitor someone struggling with substances.
There are three main behavior triggers during this time of year.
Adults who return to their parents’ homes for a holiday meal can revert back to struggles from childhood and reignite bad behaviors or old family dynamics that lead to drug usage or alcohol abuse. For adults who don’t have close family relationships, or whose family is no longer alive, this time of year can lead to extreme feelings of loneliness and grief. They may cling to good memories or replay bad memories over in their minds. For those who suffer from the effects of trauma, they need to recognize the triggers the holidays bring. If their local support network leaves town to visit their own families, these adults can often feel abandoned.
With the winter comes darkness and cold, and both of those often allow depression to creep in. Adding loneliness as well as family and financial stressors creates the perfect storm for sadness.
One of the easiest ways to manage the triggers of addiction is having a dependable schedule. You know what to expect and how to deal with each day as it comes. Traveling for the holidays changes a person’s normal schedule. This change in routine leads to stress, and stress leads to depression. Many addicts turn to substances to deal with their feelings of desolation and despondency, which only exacerbates the issue.
The holidays are all about letting go and having a good time – overindulging in good meals, having a great time with old friends, popping the cork on another bottle of champagne to ring in the New Year with strangers. All the food and festivities offer temptations for every addiction, whether it is food, alcohol, drugs, or even sex.
While most people with substance or behavior issues control what is available to them within their own homes or everyday lives, and avoid being around provocations to avert any concerns, sometimes these things can’t be avoided during trips to other people’s homes. If the tradition is free-flowing wine at the dinner table or endless buffets at every meal, it is hard to escape or ask everyone else to change just for you. Old friend groups who still have habits that you have overcome are still repeating those behaviors when you go back home. Avoiding them can be difficult, and even the act of avoidance can cause stress.
For all addicts, it is important to be prepared for the holiday season by being aware of the triggers around them.