15 Symptoms of Holiday Drug Addiction

woman passed out drunk at holiday event

The holiday season is a time that often sees drug addiction and alcoholism flaring up. A person with a substance abuse problem may end up drinking more or getting high more often as a way to cope with the stress and pressure of this time of the year. If you find this happening to you and are concerned that you may have become an addict, ask yourself the following questions to see if you may have a problem:

  1. Do you find yourself using medication to get a buzz? Do you take more than the recommended dose, or do you even abuse medication by crushing the pills to snort them? Are you expecting to use more pills to help you make it through holiday parties and family gatherings?
  2. Are you taking steps to keep your drinking or drug use a secret from others? Do you feel ashamed after drinking? Are you telling lies to keep your friends and family from knowing about your substance abuse? Are you concerned about how you will still manage to get high or drunk while also keeping up appearances during the holidays?
  3. Have you engaged in “doctor shopping,” by visiting more than one doctor to get a prescription for the same drug so that you can get enough of the drug to get high over the coming weeks?
  4. Do you steal pills from the medicine cabinet or bag of a friend or family member? Do you ever try to buy prescription drugs on the street or through a mutual friend? Are you looking forward to visiting with relatives so that you will have an opportunity to “sample” some of their pills?
  5. Is your drinking or drug use causing problems for you in your relationships? Are you getting into fights over broken promises, unfulfilled obligations or transgressions? Are your family and friends telling you that you “just aren’t the same anymore”? Have you been left out or not invited to a family holiday gathering as a result of your substance abuse?
  6. Is your substance abuse negatively affecting your on-the-job performance? Are you showing up to work late? Are you missing work due to illness? Are you making mistakes that cause problems for yourself and your co-workers?
  7. Has a friend, a family member or your employer told you that you have a problem? Have you been confronted directly about your substance abuse or about the fact that there are increasing problems in working or living with you? Have you been told that you will not be invited to an office holiday party because of concerns about your drug or alcohol abuse?
  8. Do you have a stash of drugs or alcohol that you keep to yourself and that no one else knows about? Do you keep a little something in your car or at work so that you can take the edge off when you need to during the day? Are you planning to bring a flask or a dime bag with you to family gatherings over the holidays?
  9. Do you ever black out while getting drunk, or have blank periods of your recollection of what happened while you were high? Are you concerned about attending holiday parties because of what you might do and not remember the next morning?
  10. Does your drinking or drug use lead you to behavior or actions that you later regret? Do you find yourself doing or saying things against your better judgment? Can you be expected to engage in inappropriate behavior at holiday parties or Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings with family?
  11. Does the approach of Christmas make you feel concerned that you are on the naughty list rather than the nice list? Are you planning to make New Year's resolutions to drink less, to quit using drugs and to do what you can to improve your behavior? Does guilt over your substance abuse and the things you have done while drunk or high make you feel like you don’t belong with family over the holidays?
  12. Would you like to quit drinking or using drugs, but haven’t gotten around to it yet? Are you thinking that you’ll quit as soon as the holidays are over, may be as a New Years resolution? Is getting sober always something that you’ll do after this next weekend or sometime in the near future, but which never actually seems to happen?
  13. Have you tried to quit, but haven’t been able to? Are you a repeat quitter? Do you make it a day or a week and then think that having another drink won’t do you any harm, only to find yourself back in the habit before you know it?
  14. Are you worried about getting caught at a DUI checkpoint during a holiday crackdown on drinking and driving? Do you ever drive drunk?
  15. Does drinking or using drugs ever lead you into bed with a stranger, or end up in you having unprotected sex? Do you ever wake up in the morning and know that you had sex but don’t remember who it was with? Do you ever hook up with someone at a holiday party after drinking or getting high?

You could be manifesting some of these signs without being an addict, but if one or more of the above is true for you there is a good chance that you have a substance abuse problem. This holiday season, give yourself the best gift that you possibly can by finally quitting for good and getting sober so that you can look forward to a safe and happy holiday season next year.


Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.