I will stop drinking (or using) after the holidays
is a statement I have heard many times, and each time it brings me deep sadness. “It’s too hard to stop now with the parties and celebrations, I will control myself then start new next year”
Why do I feel sad when I hear this? Two things: Several years ago, I did an evaluation on a man who came in for his drinking when it came time for him to sign up, he said he would “after the holidays, he would just control it till then”, that was right before Thanksgiving, the second week of December he had a car wreck where he was injured and the other person was paralyzed. He served time for the DUI and accident, and to this day is full of guilt.
A few years after that a young mother came in due to family pressure as her pain pills had gotten out of control. In the eval she finally admitted to a problem, but she was not going to leave her babies and go to treatment, she was not that bad. She was found dead of an overdose, it seemed she had taken her usual dose of pain pills, but the glasses of wine she had at a Christmas party put her into overdose. Her husband found her on the living floor as he was getting ready for work when she did not get the kids up for school.
The last story really cuts close to home as it happened to a friend of the family. A child of friends knew he should not be out drinking during holidays so as a child of people with addiction problems, he watched how much he drank, but he did not know the person with him drank more and they had an accident where the car skidded off the road and a fence post came through the windshield and impaled him and he suffered brain and other damages that left him paralyzed at the age of 17.
These sorts of stories are all too common but when people put off getting the help they need there is no guarantee that the addiction will not kill them, or someone close to them before they get the help they need.
Consequences of Holiday Drinking and Drugging
According to Surveillance for Violent Deaths, the rate of suicides, violence, drug overdoses and automobile accidents increases significantly during the holiday time. The majority of these incidents are directly connected to drug and alcohol abuse, especially by individuals who are trying to deal with the stress brought on by the holidays. If one already has an addiction issue, this time of year makes it worse. In a study from the Centers for Disease Control, it was discovered that most suicide victims also tested positive for illicit drug or alcohol use directly before their death. According to this study, the following things were related to overdoses and deaths during the holiday season:
- 33% of cases involved the consumption of alcohol
- 16% of suicide victims had tested positive for using opiates
- 9% had used cocaine prior to their death
- 8% used marijuana
There is no question that alcohol is a contributing cause of a number of unintentional injuries, including those that occur due to a car accident. It will impair a person’s judgment and may put them at a higher risk of being injured or even dying. This is not only a danger to the person consuming the alcohol, but also to others who are on the road.
There are quite a few accidental overdoses during the holiday season. There are quite a few reasons why this happens.
They use opiates, heroin, or other narcotics from unknown sources.
Some accidental overdoses are a result of someone merely getting their dosage wrong and taking too much at once, or it is stronger than they expected.
The holidays are often filled with alcohol. The presence of alcohol leads to the temptation to drink. Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol do not mix. They are both respiratory depressants. Many overdoses are due to combining it with alcohol, as people who normally do not drink only use add alcohol.
Also people who drink are more open to using drugs, so the cycle continues…
There are many is a powerful drugs and mixing it with things such as cough syrup, over the counter medications, and herbal products may cause an overdose.
Well the good news is that you can get the help you need, now at home, at your own time. You can get better where you live. So there is no reason to put off getting the help you need NOW!
This leads to a few stories about why now can be the best time to get the help you need, or get the help a loved one needs. It is also why we are Live Free Training Program works the way it does.
I got a call from the parents of a young man who was in law school, and although he was doing well, his drinking had started to interfere with his progress. He did not want to stop school, nor have anyone in the school know he was seeking help, so I got the call asking could I help him via Skype, since he was not coming home for the holidays. We started in the middle of December, he not only stopped drinking but was back at the top of the class the next semester, and has gone on to a nice legal career.
I had a young husband come in as he was worried about his wife’s drinking. Her one glass of wine had morphed into a whole bottle every night. I said generally it is better for the person to seek help themselves. He bought her a gift certificate for the program, and then built it up telling her that he got her the best present he could think of. Well when she opened it, lets say she was not happy. He informed her to use it or they would have to “reassess” their marriage. She was furious, but he had the insight and love to insist. She came in, reluctantly, but started and after some deep self-work realized she was becoming a person she did not like.
The last is a young professional woman who had a serious relationship with another young professional man, but she felt his drinking was starting to get a little out of hand. She was the child of an alcoholic and she started to see the warning signs. She told me he said he wanted to get help, but could not take time off from his career (and the stigma it might have in his industry). When she suggests outpatient, he resisted saying he was on the road a lot, especially for last minute trips. She knew I did remote sessions (I had helped a friend of hers lose weight) so she got her boyfriend a gift certificate, and arraigned for his first session to be live the day after Christmas.
Well that morning I got a call right before the session was supposed to start, she said he was angry that she thought he needed help, he would do it on his own. When I asked what she wanted to do, as a refund was not feasible since I had scheduled to come in for his session. She said she had decided at that instant this was not the relationship she wanted to be in, and feared she would wake up 10 years later, bailing him out of jail, so she cut ties, then she did something amazing, she asked if I would take the sessions and use them for people who wanted the help but could not afford it. She said it was the best use of money she could think of for Christmas, the gift of help for someone who wanted it, and the awaking to leaving a relationship that was going nowhere.