The holidays are here and if you’re like most people, getting together with friends and loved ones is a big part of your week. In fact, from October to January, there are over 20 different types of holidays, making those months some of the best months of the year.
Knowing The Risk Factors Of Holiday Overindulgence
However, with all the holidays that occur during that time period, people tend to overindulge, and for some, that can lead to developing some health issues.
The myth of weight gain for the holidays is not just a fairy tale. Because of the food, the feasts, and the drinks, people gain, on average, 5 extra pounds during the holidays.
As a business, gyms know that people experience this weight gain, so they do extensive marketing around the problem of weight gain, the solution being gym membership, and couple that with the hopes associated with New Year’s resolutions.
Gyms also know that most resolutions end soon after they are made, so they cynically create sign-up bonuses that include year-long membership subscriptions knowing that people will continue to pay to be a member without actually attending the gym.
Weight gain can have harmful health effects if allowed to develop. For example, weight gain increases the potential for heart disease, diabetes, decreased sex drive, lowered immune system, and damage to joints from increased weight stress on the bones and joints.
Other health concerns that stem from overindulging during the holidays are not just related to eating.
Whether it’s a glorification of drinking alcohol or holiday binge drinking, the reality is that for some people, the risks and impacts of substance abuse disorder are much more real than imagined.
People tend to drink more during the holidays than at other times socially. Whether that is because of social drinking or trying to cope with the stress of the holiday season, each case varies, but the effects add to the same concern.
From Christmas to New Year’s Day, holiday binge drinking is at its highest throughout the year. This period of the year is one when even the most moderate drinkers feel the pressure to drink more than usual due to the number of parties, celebrations, and gatherings.
With all the holiday celebrations, parties, and get-togethers, how can you tell the difference between casual social drinking, unhealthy drinking habits, and substance abuse disorder?
Signs Of Substance Abuse Disorder
It can be challenging to know whether alcohol consumption is related to social drinking in excess or if a substance abuse disorder is developing, especially when it seems like the behaviors are normalized since “everyone” is drinking around the holidays.
Substance abuse disorder can take on various forms, and symptoms vary from individual to individual, as well as the type(s) of substances used and abused, as well as any interactions with prescription or over-the-counter medications.
Because overindulging in alcohol during the holidays is so common, it can be challenging to assess if a person is developing a substance abuse disorder or not.
Symptoms of substance abuse can differ, but some of the common traits include the following;
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty with memory and other cognitive functions
- Lack of coordination
- Irritability and mood changes
- Involuntary eye movements
- Lack of inhibition and increase in risky behaviors
- Bloodshot eyes dilated pupils
- Changes in appearance, sleep patterns, and appetite
- Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothing
- Anxiety, depression, and other emotional disorders
Some of the more severe warning signs and concerns common to alcohol (and other substance dependencies) include memory loss and lack of ability to focus, including confusion.
Muscle coordination can be another tell-tale sign of neurological dependency on a substance like alcohol.
Also, there is an intense desire and need to use alcohol or problems controlling alcohol consumption, as well as difficulty withdrawing from alcohol use.
People may experience periods of blackout (memory), shakiness, dizziness, sweating, nausea, vomiting, delirium, self-destructive behaviors, compulsive behaviors, and a lack of restraint.
What Types Of Treatment Is Available For Substance Abuse Disorder
If you know of someone that has developed a dependency on alcohol and is interested in seeking treatment, there are a variety of options available to the sufferer. In some cases, patients may be able to achieve recovery and treatment through traditional therapeutics, while in more severe cases, medication may be necessary.
Talk-Therapy: A licensed therapist will help people understand the compulsion to abuse alcohol and help build healthier coping mechanisms to stop or reduce drinking. Therapy may include one-on-one counseling, family therapy, or group meetings.
Medication: Mediation may be necessary in more severe cases, especially when the patient has developed a physiological and psychological dependency.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is offered by board-certified addiction specialists that can prescribe non-addictive medication that can help people stop consuming alcohol and lowers the risk of relapse.
Four treatment programs depend on the treatment options and need to be considered.
- Intensive partial hospitalization
- Intensive inpatient hospitalization
Enjoying the holidays with friends and family can be wonderful, but for some people, it can lead to increasing health concerns that stem from different overindulgences. Knowing the signs of substance abuse disorders and how to find treatment options will allow you and your loved ones to enjoy the holidays now and in the future.