Narconon Arrowhead Discusses Drug Abuse Dangers During Holiday

man abusing alcohol and drugs during holidays

Many Americans look forward to the holiday season as a time of ongoing festivities, with parties and feasts where they can enjoy drinks with family and friends and overindulge in food and desserts. For others, however, the period from Thanksgiving through New Years Eve represents a time when the stress of trying to keep up with everything and live up to others’ expectations, when the constant reminders of how little one’s life has improved over the past year and how alone one is, and when the ready availability of alcohol all add up to a potential crisis. Many people who have already been struggling with a substance abuse problem go over the edge into having a full-blown addiction.

Others are already addicts but experience an increased level of bingeing over the holidays. This sets one up to be at risk of serious problems. For one thing, the person could overdose on drugs or alcohol, ending up in the emergency room and possibly suffering a fatal overdose. This could happen while visiting with family, or it could occur when one is all alone and has no help to make it through the crisis.

Another common scenario in which drug or alcohol abuse over the holidays can lead to serious problems is when the person gets into legal trouble as a result of his or her substance abuse. Many police departments and sheriff’s offices around the country step up their enforcement activities around the holidays, such as with DUI checkpoints to catch drunk or drugged drivers on the roads on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve and other nights. This can result in a loss of driver’s license, time in jail, heavy fines and the long-term consequences of having a criminal record. Worse, drinking drunk or drugged increases the chances of being involved in a car accident, with the risk of serious injury or death. Similarly, drinking or using drugs raises the risk of injury in other types of accidents, or in a fight at a party or at the bar, and any one of the scenarios outlined above could simply ruin the holidays, let alone the more serious and long-term ramifications.

Holiday Advice for Families of Addicts

Narconon Arrowhead recommends that anyone who has a close friend or family member with a substance abuse problem should take steps to shield his or her loved one during the holiday season. Don’t make parties and holiday feasts revolve around drinking. Make sure that your loved one has an excuse and a backup plan for getting out of situations where the stress or pressure might lead to excessive drinking or using drugs. Offer to give a ride when necessary to avoid drunk driving, and offer to provide support when your loved one needs someone to talk to. Make sure that your loved one doesn’t overdo it on trying to have the perfect holiday season, show up to every party or burn the candle at both ends with a jam-packed schedule, but rather takes the opportunity to get some extra rest, to enjoy some peace and relaxation and catch up with friends and family who matter.

Above all else, know that the holiday season may be the time for you to help your loved one get into rehab. With all of the factors that make the holidays a risky time for an addict, it may be possible to take advantage of this increased pressure and stress to drive it home that it’s time for a change and that help is necessary to handle the situation. The holidays are a time when you need to be more alert to the risks faced by an addict, and when you might need to take effective action to address the problem.


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.