For families living with alcohol addiction, the season that is supposed to bring joy and happiness can magnify existing problems.
Parties, financial pressures and family demands that come during the holidays will often trigger an increase in an alcoholic’s drinking. People living with an alcoholic often experience the holiday season as a time of stress, anxiety and dysfunction rather than peace and goodwill.
One of the most difficult things about the holidays is that many holiday traditions involve alcohol. Drinking alcohol is often an important part of family gatherings, work parties and other festivities. An alcoholic may feel that his or her drinking will attract less attention as excess becomes the norm during the holiday season.
The problems caused by alcohol during the holiday system can extend beyond the homes of alcoholics.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show that 32% of all traffic fatalities are caused by drunk drivers. This figure increases to more than 40% during the holiday season as more drunk drivers take to the road.
If you have a family member or loved one who is suffering from alcoholism, these are some suggestions for minimizing the risk of a holiday crisis.
- Avoid serving alcohol. One of the most important ways to help a family member who is battling alcohol addiction is to keep alcohol out of the home. If you’re entertaining during the holidays, don’t include alcohol in your plans. Stock up on water, fruit juice and soda to offer your guests instead. Avoid discussions with guests about why you’re not serving alcool, since this will make an alcoholic family member feel singled out.
- Show support by staying sober. Family members who drink in excess during the holiday season are not helping a loved one who suffers from alcohol addiction. Stay sober and let your loved one know that you support them.
- Seek help. Alcohol addiction is a disease that requires professional treatment. Many people who are living with an alcoholic refuse to admit that their loved one needs professional help to overcome alcohol addiction. By ignoring the seriousness of the problem, they are enabling the alcoholic’s unhealthy behavior. When problems associated with alcoholism threaten the safety and stability of your family, seek professional help.
One of the most dangerous myths about recovery from alcohol addiction is that with enough will power an alcoholic can stop drinking. The science of addiction has proven otherwise. Medical research shows that alcoholism is a disease that damages the brain, leading to physical cravings that are as strong as the need for highly addictive drugs like heroin and cocaine. Alcohol abusers can suffer life-threatening withdrawal symptoms if they stop drinking without medical supervision.
If drinking during the holiday season threatens to put your family into a crisis situation, don’t hesitate to seek help. Recovery is the greatest gift of all for your addicted loved one and family.