Holiday Season Can Trigger Substance Abuse

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The holiday season is a busy and stressful time.

All the festivities - and preparing for them - also can bring a spike in substance abuse.

Stormont-Vail West chemical dependency counselor Fiana Martin says alcohol is commonly served at celebrations this time of year. But she says people recovering from addiction don't have to miss out on the fun if they arrive with what she calls a safety plan.

Martin says the plan might include attending a support group meeting before or after the event, setting a specific amount of time for which they'll stay at the party, or attending the party with a person or group on whom they can count to get them out of the situation should the need arise.

Party hosts can help, too. Lots of sites offer recipes for fun, non-alcoholic drinks. In that way, Martin says, people in recovery don't have to feel they're limited to diet soda or water.

The stresses of expectations from family, friends and finances also can weigh on an addict over the holidays. Martin says it's important to acknowledge those stresses so you can cope. She says people need to set boundaries and try to get comfortable with saying no if they feel they cannot handle doing something.

Of course, this season of joy can also be a source of depression for some struggling with loss or other issues. If a loved one turns to alcohol to cope, Martin says, don't let the holidays be a reason to ignore it. She says if a person is actively struggling with an addiction, it's not going to be a happy time anyway, so getting them into a situation where they can get help is perhaps the best gift a loved one can give.

If you're concerned about your or a loved one's substance abuse, you can contact Fiana Martin at Stormont-Vail Wes at 785-270-4679.