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Dealing with substance abuse during the holidays

Drinking and use of recreational drugs can increase during the holidays
Drinking and use of recreational drugs can increase during the holidays(wsaw)
Published: Dec. 30, 2021 at 7:33 AM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Holidays can be the perfect recipe for substance abuse with increased gatherings and parties, increased stress and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health professionals say it’s good to be on alert if people notice any sudden dramatic changes in appearance or behavior in a family member or loved one.  Noticeable mood swings, the tendency to disappear and reappear without explanation and seeming intoxicated even when not drinking are additional things to look out for according to the Gateway Foundation.

“I definitely think we should keep an eye on our loved ones during the holiday season.  Things you can watch for are probably if they have a change in their emotions, mood, behavior.  Ask how people are doing.  That’s the best thing we can do for our loved ones, is to check in on them,” said Marathon County Health Department Public Health Educator Jenna Flynn.

According to addiction specialists at FHE Health substance abuse does not follow any sort of calendar.  Relatives of people with chemical dependency should not expect holiday miracles, but rather accept that the process of someone in recovery can also include relapses.  They say by all means not to organize spontaneous interventions to ambush a family member, because that is often counterproductive.

“I think the best thing we can do for a family member or loved one that’s going through something hard is just to ask the hard questions, and then being there to listen,” Flynn said.

Resources to help someone struggling with addiction can be found by calling the United Way help line at 2-1-1, or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) helpline at 1800-662-4357.

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