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The holiday season can be a fun, joyous time for many, but for some, this time of year can be sad, stressful, and difficult for reasons such as estrangement from friends and family, financial hardship, and addiction recovery. Drug abuse rates tend to be higher during the holidays for these reasons and more, but being aware of common holiday triggers can help you and your family stay safe and reduce the risk for relapse if you’re recovering from addiction.

Here are statistics for drug and alcohol use during the holidays, along with steps you can take to get back on track with recovery if you or a loved one relapses.

 

Drug Abuse Statistics for the Holidays

  • The number of drug overdose deaths in December 2016 was 37% higher than the overdose death count in December 2015.
  • Roughly 83% of all drug overdoses in December 2016 were accidental.
  • About 25% of deaths caused by auto crashes in December 2016 were related to alcohol use.
  • About 300 people die from alcohol-related car accidents every year during the week between Christmas and New Year.
  • Alcohol use rates in the U.S. during the last 2 weeks of December are 70% higher than any other time of year.
  • There were 5,505 drug overdose deaths in December 2016, which is higher than the death count of any other month that year.
  • Suicides caused by drug overdose in December 2016 were more common among females than men, with nearly 60% being female.
  • Accidental drug overdose deaths in December 2016 were more common among males than females, with over 68% of victims being male.

What Holiday Factors Lead to Drug Abuse and Relapse?

Alcohol is often widely available around the holidays since this substance is commonly served at parties and events, and included in many holiday traditions and celebrations. Drugs are also often easily accessible during the holidays — especially when relatives visit and leave addictive prescription drugs like painkillers and benzodiazepines out in plain view.

Other factors that may lead to drug abuse and relapse:

  • Financial problems, inability to buy nice gifts
  • Dealing with holiday shopping and crowds
  • Spending time with difficult relatives
  • Being separated from loved ones
  • Traveling long distances
  • Taking part in holiday traditions that involve drugs and alcohol
  • Exposure to drugs and alcohol at holiday parties and events
  • Pressure to attend many holiday events and social functions
  • Hosting holiday meals and parties

What Should You Do If You Relapse During the Holidays?

Relapse rates for substance use disorders are between 40 and 60% and similar to relapse rates for other chronic illnesses such as asthma and high blood pressure. Relapse is common and normal among those in recovery from addiction, and doesn’t mean that treatment has failed. But relapsing can also be dangerous and may lead to overdose and death.

Here’s what to do if you or a loved one relapses during the holidays:

  • Receive a medical detox at a drug rehab to overcome drug dependence and eliminate drugs and alcohol from the body.
  • Join an inpatient residential treatment program to learn skills that help you identify and manage triggers so you can avoid future relapses.
  • Seek treatment at a drug rehab center that individualizes its programs for each patient based on their unique histories and struggles with addiction.
  • Learn and practice new stress management techniques like yoga, exercise, and meditation so you don’t have to rely on drugs and alcohol to relieve stress.
  • Seek behavioral and mental health therapy to treat and manage co-occurring disorders like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and PTSD that may play a role in addiction.

Bridges of Hope offer medical detox and a range of addiction treatment programs that can be customized and individualized just for you or your loved one. Contact us today and get started on a safe, successful recovery today.

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