During this time of year, we are inundated through music, television, and social media with messages that we should be full of joy and happiness. While this is an ideal expectation, often, it does not mirror many peoples reality.
It has been well documented that during the Holiday season, alcohol and illicit drug use increases tremendously. Domestic violence, drunk driving accidents, suicides, and homicides also increase during this time. Many of these incidents are related to substance use and abuse. A study by the Center of Disease Control found that many suicide victims frequently tested positive for alcohol or illicit drugs.
Alcohol increases stress. Even though it appears that drinkers are jovial and having fun; the truth is that alcohol is a depressant that is high in calories and low in nutritional value. Alcohol decrease inhibitions, and leads some to behave in manners that they may regret later.
Alcohol and the use of certain prescriptions can also be deadly. How many celebrities have we known that died prematurely due to mixing alcohol, illicit drugs, and prescription medications?
Too much alcohol can lead to alcohol poisoning. Alcohol diminishes the ability to feel pain and other sensations. People have frozen to death, due to being too intoxicated to feel the cold.
There is an increase of relapse in those who have been in treatment for substance abuse. Sometimes due to loneliness, guilt and shame over past incidents, or a lack of coping skills, substance abuse seems to them like a viable option. If you are in early recovery, it is strongly suggested that you stay around people who are not using alcohol or drugs. It is also important that you seek out a 12 step meeting in your area.
During this time of year, our physical health can be negatively impacted by increased alcohol use. Alcohol contains sugar. Sugar is contra-indicated for diabetics. For those with liver disease, alcohol and drugs are very toxic to an already damaged organ. Since the liver is not functioning at maximum capacity, it stays in your system longer. The outcome can be deadly, Substance use and abuse contributes to cirrhosis of the liver, fatty liver and other diseases of the liver.
The holidays should not be a time of stress and trying to live up to other’s expectations of what you should do, or how you should feel. Be realistic. Be kind to yourself. Take care of your body, your mind, and your spirit.
Suggestions for surviving the holidays;
Do not drink and drive
Limit your alcohol intake
Instead of alcohol, try drinking sparkling water and fruit juices
Have an exit strategy. When things are getting too hectic, or you feel the urge to over- indulge, have a prepared reason for leaving early.
Never mix alcohol and drugs, (This includes prescription medications).
Seek help for substance abuse immediately if you realize that you are drinking or using drugs even though you want to quit.
Honor your body, mind, and spirit.
Have a designated driver
Do not isolate. Find others to be around that are a positive source of encouragement and hope.
Stay prayerful. Seek help from your Higher Power. Ask for help.
LEAP SUPPORT GROUP
Liver Education Advocacy & Prevention Services offers education and support groups for those with Hepatitis C and other diseases of the liver. We meet on the 4th Mondays of each month from 6-8 p.m.
The Free Clinic of Greater Cleveland 12100 Euclid Avenue
LEAPS (216) 224-5122