Addiction psychiatrist Dr. David Sack warns families to keep a close eye on substance abusers whose behavior may escalate during holidays, which could result in DUIs or other serious consequences.
Los Angeles, CA (Vocus) November 23, 2010 – Holidays are meant to bring families together for good cheer and celebration, but for some families the holidays are more about staving off or mitigating the disasters of an alcoholic drinker.
“The holidays are a time when drinking is more socially acceptable,” explains Dr. David Sack, an addiction psychiatrist and CEO of Promises Treatment Centers, “For the problem drinker, the limits they might attempt to impose on themselves during normal times may go out the window. When this more relaxed attitude toward drinking is combined with the stress of increased family obligations, you have a recipe for disaster.”
Even normal drinkers sometimes overindulge in alcohol over the holidays, but it’s the alcoholic or binge drinker who is at most risk during those weeks when alcohol is flowing freely at parties and at home.
“Functioning alcoholics manage to eke out their obligations to work and family during the year, but if they drink at a holiday party, they are more likely to become highly intoxicated. This can lead to serious consequences if co-workers or supervisors witness troubling behavior, especially if there have been other signs of a problem with alcohol in the past,” says Dr. Sack.
The holidays are also a time of increased numbers of DUIs, and research shows the binge drinker is significantly more likely to drive while intoxicated.
“Holidays create the perfect storm for those who have a problem with drugs or alcohol. Alcohol is flowing freely, there are more parties to drive to and from, and family members come together who may have long-standing conflicts with each other,” Dr. Sack explains. “If you already have a problem, the holidays can accelerate the issue. You might end up with alcohol poisoning or in jail. You might humiliate family members, then as an added insult, forget you did it.”
Family members who recognize an issue with alcohol in one of their loved ones can take steps to avoid disaster. Dr. Sack recommends limiting the amount of alcohol available at family gatherings, making sure food is available while waiting for the main feast so no one is drinking on an empty stomach, and ensuring that transportation is available for anyone who is too intoxicated to drive.
Dr. Sack says the holidays can also serve as a real wake up call for families, and they should seize any opportunity to get their loved one help.
“Family members often tell themselves they can wait until after the holidays to take action, but this can be a life-ending mistake. Because of denial, by the time family members become concerned their relative needs treatment for drugs or alcohol, they are nearly always at a crisis point. Reaching out for professional help is the right first step.”
Promises Treatment Centers is one of the nation’s leading addiction treatment programs with locations in Malibu and West Los Angeles.