5 Signs of Alcohol Addiction During the Holidays

Have you ever attended a holiday gathering and noticed that one friend or family member who might be enjoying the egg nog a bit more than everyone else? Perhaps, they are putting a little too much effort into the “drink” in “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry”, and you’ve questioned whether it’s something more than holiday cheer? If so, you aren’t alone. The holidays may provide many opportunities to spend time celebrating the season with loved ones, but it can also provide an opportunity or catalyst to behaviors you might not otherwise see in friends or family.

Stress. Anxiety. Depression. Financial pressures. Each of these factors (among many others) are often major pressures during the holidays. These things can be difficult for many to process but adding the increased access to alcohol at holiday parties or gatherings can be a trigger to those struggling with an alcohol use disorder. They can be especially difficult for those in recovery trying to maintain sobriety.

During the holiday season, there are many factors that can contribute to  certain expectations that people need to meet socially, which can create higher levels of anxiety for some. For example, at holiday events, people tend to feel they need to perform at certain levels in family environments. Many feel that they must display that they’re good family members and, in some cases, impress other members in the family with some level of success. Other people may feel they are expected to summarize their entire lives for certain relatives but may or may not be proud of recent successes or failures. These things can contribute to feelings of stress or anxiety leading up to these events. As a result, some may self-medicate using alcohol.

So, if you find yourself wondering whether or not your Uncle Jim’s enjoyment of the holiday punch is more than just holiday cheer, here are a few signs that may indicate an alcohol use disorder.

5 Signs That May Indicate Alcohol Addiction

  1. Tolerance for Alcohol –Did they need to drink more than they did previously to feel their desired effect? Are you noticing that the usual number of drinks they have are simply having less of an effect than usual?
  2. Driving Under the Influence – Are you or a loved one trying to drive a vehicle while intoxicated? Engaging in such risky behavior is a definite sign of an alcohol use disorder.
  3. Frequent Drinking to Deal with Stress – Do they often insist they need a drink in order to overcome holiday-related stress or difficult circumstances? Are you noticing they are drinking more frequently than is good for them? Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that generally accepted limits for women should not exceed eight alcoholic drinks per week and men should not exceed 15 per week.
  4. Putting Relationships and Employment at Risk – Are their family and friends asking them to drink less? Have you noticed a significant other is upset, aggravated or angry with them due to their drinking? Are friends avoiding them because of their drunken behavior? Are they missing meetings, showing up late to work, or not showing up to work at all due to drinking?
  5. Frequently, Excessively Drinking at Holiday Gatherings – This tends to be where social pressures can bring someone “down” and where an increased access to alcohol results in more drinking. Did they mention they were looking forward to the alcoholic beverages at a specific gathering because they don’t want to go but have to be there? Did they indicate they weren’t going to drink but later indulge in alcoholic beverages because others are drinking and are encouraging them to do the same?

If you think that you or a loved one exhibit any of the aforementioned addictive behaviors, please give Luminous Counseling a call and speak to one of our professionals. We can help.

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