Holiday music and films instill visions of what the holidays should be, but they aren’t the reality for the millions of families affected by addiction. As holiday celebrations approach, families are left with a series of less-than-ideal ways to approach the addict in their lives. Do they ban the addict from the holiday festivities? Should they allow the addict to ruin another get-together? Fortunately, there is another option. Staging an addiction intervention confronts the problem head-on, helping the addict get the treatment they need and granting family members the peace of mind to enjoy the holiday season. An addiction intervention is a pre-planned meeting with the addict and their closest family, friends and colleagues that is designed to help the addict into drug rehab. In a loving, supportive manner, concerned participants describe the way addiction has impacted their lives and the consequences for refusing to accept help. Families are often reluctant to confront a loved one’s addiction during the holiday season. But according to the addiction specialists at Promises drug rehab centers in Malibu and Los Angeles, in many ways the holidays are the best time to stage an addiction intervention. “The holidays can be one of the most effective times to break through a loved one’s denial,” said Dr. David Sack, CEO of Promises Treatment Centers. “When family members stage an addiction intervention or help a loved one into treatment over the holidays, they send a particularly strong message that the family’s number-one priority is for their loved one to get well.” The message is particularly powerful during the holidays because it is a time when many people struggling with addiction assume their downward spiral will go unnoticed or get overlooked in the hustle and bustle of holiday preparation. It is also one of the only times of the year when family members are together in the same place. Families that step in and take action can get their loved one’s attention, increasing the likelihood that the addict will accept the help being offered. Without intervention, in just a few short months a drug or alcohol problem can go from worrisome to deadly. November and December typically see an increase in drunk driving accidents, accidental overdoses, depression and domestic violence, often tied to drug and alcohol abuse. Delaying drug rehab means a few more months that loved ones, including children, may be exposed to harmful behaviors and many more late nights spent worrying for the addict’s safety. Substance abuse typically worsens over the holidays, with Thanksgiving Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Eve consistently ranking among the top drinking holidays of the year. Some reasons for increased drug and alcohol abuse over the holidays include:
- Holiday parties make it a popular and socially acceptable time of year to drink alcohol excessively.
- Stress levels increase as a result of juggling work and family obligations as well as gift-buying and holiday celebrations.
- Holiday spending adds financial pressure in an already bleak economy.
- Both joyful and painful emotions are heightened around the holidays.
- Complex family dynamics such as divorce, loss of a loved one, other family members’ addictions and mental health issues, and strained relationships can stir up emotions and memories that have been suppressed or brushed aside all year.
- Those who are estranged from family because of addiction or other issues may be reminded of their isolation and loneliness, which can fuel addictive behavior.
“Nothing, including a date on the calendar, should stand in the way of getting help for addiction,” said Dr. Sack. “The longer someone waits to begin drug rehab, the more damage may be done to their physical and emotional health as well as their relationships, career, finances and future.” The best way to spread holiday cheer isn’t by buying another high-tech gadget, but giving the gift of sobriety. Drug rehab is a safe place to address the feelings and underlying issues that have contributed to drug and alcohol addiction and lay the foundation for happier holidays ahead.