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Holiday Stress Leads to Increased Substance Abuse and other Behavioral Health Struggles

Christian Treatment Can Bring Lasting Hope and Healing to the Addicted

Key Facts:

  • Recent studies show that drug and alcohol abuse rise more than 25 percent during the winter holiday season, from Halloween through New Year’s.
  • Unmet expectations, financial pressures, holiday related stressors, and cold, dark, lonely days can affect mood and behavior exacerbating addictions and other behavioral health challenges.
  • Lighthouse Network offers hope and lasting healing to those struggling with life interfering behaviors (addictions, eating disorders, cutting), emotions (depression anxiety, anger), or thoughts (PTSD, abuse, loss) and their loved ones through Christian-based resources, treatment referrals, and compassionate expertise.

As the holiday season gets under way, days get shorter and stress increases leading many to find themselves stuck in the “holiday blues.” But for those who struggle with addiction, blues become dark clouds of black that intensify the need to drink or use substances.

As an example, The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that drunk drivers play a role in a full 40 percent of traffic deaths over Christmas and New Year’s. That’s an increase of 12 percent over the rest of December. And addiction relapse is more common during holiday times as well. Less daylight can lead to disorders such as Seasonal Affective Disorder, which can cause its own problems but also lead to an increase in substance use to mask feelings of sadness or depression.

I want to offer you numerous resources to help those struggling with mood and addiction issues and their loved ones receive the gift of hope, healing, and new beginnings during this holiday season. The key, sounds simple but it works, is remembering the reason for the season.

The holiday season can be exponentially more difficult for those struggling with addiction and other behavioral health issues, as it includes shorter days, more darkness, more expectations, more tasks and activities, less money, and often past and present family stress leading to painful emotions. These painful emotions usually prompt some exponentially more painful knee-jerk responses like self-medicating with substances and food, escaping the situation via isolating or a bottle of alcohol, or avoiding it with work or pornography. I strive to keep Christ and His teachings in constant focus as we work to help the hurting, at the holidays and through the year.

My goal is always to practically integrate Bible teachings into the best treatment modalities to help those who struggle shed the huge holiday expectations that often lead to stress, depression, and either intensification or relapses of their addictive behaviors, while getting them the help they need to lead the life God created them to live. Remember, the most effective help will incorporate God’s power and the healing principles of the Holy Bible into the treatment process to bring the hope, peace, deep healing and lasting transformation our soul thirsts for.

 

karl-benzio-1Dr. Karl Benzio MD, Christian Psychiatrist, writer, speaker, media guest expert, social issue activist, and the founder and clinical director of Lighthouse Network. Benzio brings scientific expertise and biblical principles together to examine common daily struggles and help people successfully navigate life’s storms. His experiences include teaching pastors, ministry leaders and students about counseling, leadership, parenting, marriage, and conflict resolution skills in traumatized areas like Uganda, Kenya and post-Hussein Iraq. He is currently a member of Focus on the Family’s Physicians Resource Council, the Pennsylvania Director of the American Academy of Medical Ethics, and serves on many other social policy task forces. His specialties include adolescents, addictions, decision-making and infusing spirituality into treatment. Benzio shares psycho-spiritual insights via his Stepping Stones daily devotional, on his one-minute daily radio feature “Life Change with Dr. Karl,” on 425 Christian radio stations and on iDisciple.org.

Email: KBenzio@LighthouseNetwork.org

Twitter: @drkarlb