Alcohol and the Holidays

Woman sitting in front of Christmas tree looking forlorn

The holidays are a time to celebrate with family and loved ones. Alcoholic beverages are closely associated with this time of year and with celebrations in general. For some, this is an opportunity for alcoholism or other forms of substance abuse to take control. During the holidays, it is important to know why substance abuse victims are at risk and how to effectively deal with the symptoms.

Jump In Alcohol Sales During the Holidays

According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, a quarter of the distilled spirits industry’s yearly profits come from the weeks between Thanksgiving and the New Year. There are several factors that could explain this. The first is that some holiday traditions may involve gifting alcoholic beverages or holding social drinking events. For individuals suffering from alcoholism, however, this could be an entry point back into addiction, including the negative emotions and consequences that are associated with that. When giving a gift to an individual with a history of alcoholism, consider avoiding those beverages and choose a safer option.

Alcohol and Loneliness

Alcohol consumption is also linked to feelings of loneliness for those who may not have loved ones to spend the holidays with. In these instances, it is important to find a support group to communicate and empathize with one another’s feelings and thoughts. In fact, a support group of any kind is associated with an increase in lasting sobriety for substance abuse victims by almost three times more than those without treatment, via a 2016 study. One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, and others who need it, is companionship during a harsh season in life.

Emotions Around the Holidays

While many people associate the holiday season with joy and positive feelings, there are many individuals who may have different experiences. According to a whitepaper by the American Psychological Association, 38% of respondents stated that their stress levels noticeably increase during the holiday season, while only 8% reported a decrease. One of the most common yet ineffective ways of dealing with stress is to abuse harmful substances, including alcohol. However, alcohol will likely have the opposite effect on those who abuse it. This is because it disrupts numerous brain processes, amplifying emotions and provoking depression, anger, and stress, potentially affecting one’s mental health long-term. Additionally, alcohol can also interfere with an individual’s ability to enter REM sleep, causing restlessness and therefore making stress more difficult to overcome.

Effects of Alcohol

One of the most dangerous effects of alcohol is its ability to impair both judgment and motor function, creating potentially catastrophic outcomes. Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, two to three times more people die in alcohol-related DUIs than during comparable periods the rest of the year, according to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This would cause a significant negative impact on not only the impaired driver but also those affected by his or her actions. The holidays should be focused on celebration, not regret and trauma.

JADE Wellness Can Help

For many, addiction and abuse can quickly spiral out of control and result in grave consequences. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction to any substance, JADE Wellness is here to help you. JADE Wellness Center is Pittsburgh’s first comprehensive medication-assisted treatment center, also offering individual and group therapy sessions. Call us at 412-380-0100 or visit the JADE Wellness Center website to begin your path to recovery.