Bad news for the kiddos. A man who was pulled over in a routine traffic stop in Hackensack this month – the spitting image of Santa Claus himself – and was allegedly found to have in his possession empty baggies that had held illicit substances, a needle, a crack pipe, and a Santa Claus costume. The man was a volunteer at Toys for Tots, but he may not be able to maintain his post this holiday season due to drug charges.
Unfortunately, Santa’s situation is not unique. It is not easy to be functional in life while living with an addiction. For many, the holidays are a time when it becomes clear to the individual living with the addiction disorder and to their loved ones that their use of drugs and alcohol has become too problematic to ignore.
Is someone you care about fighting off a substance use disorder this holiday season?
Holiday Drinking or Substance Abuse Problem?
Because so many people tend to overindulge during the holidays, it is not always immediately apparent when someone is drinking too much. Drinking at inappropriate times, or drinking more than just one or two, is the norm for the season. When people are under the influence, they may be less likely to notice the consequences that others are experiencing due to heavy drinking. However, it still may become glaringly apparent if a loved one is facing a disorder during the holidays.
Here are a few things to watch out for:
- If your family member is continually “sneaking off” and spending unexplained periods of time away from the family, it may be because they are drinking or using drugs.
- You may notice that your family member starts drinking far earlier than everyone else, continues drinking when others have stopped, and drinks far more than anyone else.
- Your loved one may be heading outside or to the bathroom frequently to get high, and they may potentially be taking other family members with them, including underage family members or those who are at risk due to medical issues.
- After drinking heavily and/or using drugs, your loved one gets behind the wheel of a car.
- Your loved one is violent, erratic, or verbally abusive to others while under the influence.
- Despite a genuine effort to stay sober, your family member is unable to avoid getting high or drinking.
In general, during the holidays or any time of the year, if substance use is causing negative consequences in the person’s life or harming others, and the individual is unable to moderate their use or stop on their own, then it is time to get treatment.
The Gift of Recovery
One of the benefits of holiday gatherings is that it often means that a number of family members are present. Not only does it put more eyes on the situation but should you determine that action is needed, everyone is available to discuss and develop a plan. It often takes many people in the family to come together and figure out how best to handle the details when a loved one is struggling with addiction.
When everyone works together, you can decide:
- What treatment services are most needed for your loved one (e.g., mental health treatment for co-occurring disorders, chronic pain management, etc.)
- What drug rehab program provides the types of treatment needed as well as aftercare support and support for family members
- How much insurance will pay of the total bill
- How the rest of the bill will be covered
- Who will care for kids, dependent adults, and/or animals if they will be impacted
It may be necessary, too, to have a formal discussion with the person struggling with addiction and offer treatment as the next step. Even though everyone is gathered for the Thanksgiving holiday, there is no better way to show gratitude for life than to acknowledge when it is at risk and do the hard work to get better, and that is what treatment provides everyone who is struggling with addiction.
Is someone you love in need of your support in treatment? How will you help them move closer to recovery this holiday season?