By Allison Stone, Contributing Writer
THE HOLIDAYS ARE a stressful time for everyone. Between gift-giving, travel, and keeping up with all parts of family life, nearly anyone can find themselves driven toward the nearest coping mechanism, whatever that may be. However, for recovering addicts or those still struggling with active addiction, the holidays can be a particularly difficult time that can invite a destructive relapse.
Sadly, substance abuse is much more common than many people realize. Addiction doesn’t only affect “bad people,” it affects people from many different walks of life, kills thousands of Americans every year, and impacts millions of lives every day.
To put the problem into numeric perspective, AddictionCenter.com offers the following stats:
• Almost 21 million Americans have at least one addiction, yet only 10% receive treatment.
• Drug overdose deaths have more than tripled since 1990.
• From 1999 to 2017, more than 700,000 Americans died from overdosing on a drug.
• Alcohol and drug addiction cost the United States economy over $600 billion every year.
• In 2017, 34.2 million Americans committed DUI, 21.4 million of these were under the influence of alcohol, and 12.8 million were under the influence of drugs.
• About 20% of Americans who have depression or an anxiety disorder also have a substance abuse disorder.
• More than 90% of people who have an addiction started to drink alcohol or use drugs before they were 18.
How do you help a loved one who suffers from addiction? Manny Zizumbo, LCSW CSAT, a therapist at Clear Recovery of Cache Valley, offered the following suggestions:
• Educate yourself. Learn about addiction and the symptoms related to it. This will help you recognize the signs that your loved one needs help.
• Offer support. Addicts often feel embarrassed and don’t understand how much their friends and family love them. Talk to them and let them know you want to support them on their road to recovery.
• Encourage them to get help. The sooner addiction is treated, the better. Many addicts are in denial about their problem or make excuses to avoid getting treatment, but it is important to encourage them to seek treatment and take down the barriers preventing them from doing it.
• Continue offering support. After your loved one decides to seek treatment, they still need your support — maybe more than ever. Show them that you really will be there every step of the way.