Alcohol is a staple at many holiday parties. Christmas festivities might seem incomplete without a little eggnog, while it’s common for champagne to be handed out close to midnight on New Year’s Eve. Alcohol abuse is common during the holidays, as is relapse for those in recovery from alcohol addiction.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), approximately 70 percent of adults in the United States reported having consumed alcohol throughout 2013. Even those who do not normally struggle with alcohol abuse can have issues controlling alcohol consumption during the holidays. This is due to the availability and social acceptability of alcohol use, in addition to heightened stress and other triggers that might lead to abuse during this season.
Though the holidays can be a joyful time that brings family and friends together, it can also trigger anxiety, depression or other mental health disorders. Individuals often then turn to alcohol to self-medicate when faced with these issues.
Tips from NIAAA for how to drink responsibly during the holidays include pacing, having one non-alcoholic drink in between any alcoholic drinks and ensuring that there is reliable transportation home. This transportation can include a designated driver, public transportation or ride-sharing companies, such as Uber or Lyft. Many American Automobile Association (AAA) locations nationwide also participate in a “Tipsy Tow” program on holidays that provides a one-way tow home from a bar or party if a driver has had too much to drink. It is intended as a last resort, and the holidays on which it is offered vary throughout the country.
This time can be particularly troubling for those who have a history of alcohol abuse or addiction. For recovering alcoholics, the holidays can be a minefield of triggers that need to be avoided to ensure sobriety. These individuals are encouraged to maintain any current treatment plans that are in place and attend regular support meetings for added recovery maintenance during the holiday season. Identifying one family member or friend as a support person can also be beneficial during parties or family get-togethers, as it keeps those in recovery accountable.
Holiday stressors that can trigger alcohol abuse or relapse include financial issues, changes in daily routine, travel and reconnecting with potentially triggering family or friends. If you or a loved one is struggling to maintain sobriety or is developing a substance abuse issue due to these triggers, help is available. Call Sovereign Health Group today at our 24/7 helpline to speak with a professional.
Written by Courtney Howard, Sovereign Health writer