The holiday season involves some of the highest levels of stress throughout the year. This statement holds a large amount of truth for everyone, including both addicts and non-addicts. Although “stress” is the leading factor in causing people to act out more during the holiday season, it helps to take a look at stress a little more specifically to understand what’s actually going on in the addict’s head.
The insights you learn will help you understand why the recovering or non-recovering addict in your life acts the way he or she does and whether a professional intervention might be appropriate.
The Pressure to Join the Herd
If the addicted individual in your life is an alcoholic, the holidays present ripe opportunity for them to act out. It’s just one of the many facts about alcohol abuse. It seems like everyone is enjoying themselves drinking throughout the holiday season. Work events, family members, and community celebrations all have more than enough alcohol available. And, the holidays are typically an occasion special enough for people who aren’t even interested in drinking to have one or two.
Contact with Former Acting Out Friends
During family and work celebrations, it’s sometimes completely impossible to avoid people the addict has gotten drunk or high with in the past. For an addict to truly experience what recovery offers, it’s necessary to keep interaction with people and situations reminding them of past acting out experiences to a minimum. Simply the sight of a particular person or place can trigger a powerful urge to begin using.
Guild and Shame Triggers
If you have an active, non-recovering addict in your family it’s difficult to believe they experience any guilt or shame about their behavior. But, the fact is they do experience large amounts of both of these emotions. Simply the sight of a person they harmed can trigger these emotions, and in turn, the addict chooses to deal with them by using once again. With so much interpersonal contact during the holidays, the chances of experiencing triggers like this increase exponentially.
Avoiding the Pain of the Past
The holidays also cause people to reminisce about negative personal experiences from the past. Thoughts of dysfunctional relationships with immediate family members may fill the heads of addicts. Addicts then choose to cover these powerful, unpleasant feelings up by using their drug of choice. If you know someone in your family who is an unrepentant addict, you might notice one of two extremes during the holidays: they seem incredibly subdued, almost lost inside of themselves or they are highly boisterous, creating the appearance on the surface that everything is okay.
Does Someone in Your Family Need an Addiction Intervention?
The holidays bring about our best and worst behavior. They can be a great time to identify whether or not the person in your life needs an intervention.