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Holiday Stress and Overindulgence Exacerbate All Types of Addiction

Need to Find Positive Coping Mechanisms at the Holidays and Year-Round

Key Facts:

  • Addictions start as a person’s strategy to deal with stress and holidays are are time of year when people are the most stressed.
  • In addition to typical addictions like alcohol, drugs, or food, another lesser-discussed addiction that can be used to mask pain is spending or shopping.
  • Compulsive spending is among the most difficult addictions to recognize and diagnose at the holidays, as many are overindulging in holiday sales without using the purchases to self-medicate.
  • Lighthouse Network offers help, hope, and healing to those that damage their lives, finances, and relationships with out-of-control behaviors.

While some easily juggle and even enjoy the hustle and bustle of the holidays, for others, the overwhelming stress of the holiday season can make tensions fly out of control. And for those with less developed coping skills, the temptation to turn to destructive patterns or behaviors can be overwhelming, leading to exacerbation or relapse of addiction.

Addictions are a persons strategy to help them cope with stress, initially the addiction object helped ease or cope with the stress, but grew into an addiction that is more stressful than the actual stressors are. Well, the holidays are partly defined by the increased stress level, and for many, a relapse of their addiction is inevitable. Christmas is all about giving gifts, which means buying gifts, so the compulsive spender is forced to spend and the vicious cycle is easily activated.

Unfortunately, addiction doesn’t have to be overt and is not always easily spotted. At the holidays, compulsive spenders might engage in what appears to be normal behavior, but are actually masking the pain they feel in other areas of life with excessive spending. It’s a pattern that can destroy relationships, finances, and ultimately, the life of the addict. Fortunately, many Christian treatment options can offer addicts and those with psychological struggles hope and healing.

Compulsive spenders may appear perfectly normal when making a purchase in a store, but the mixture of guilt or shame and euphoria that accompanies a purchase is a symptom that something is wrong. By showing people the unrealistic expectations and needs they have at the holidays and in life, as well as showing them the person that they are truly meant to be when they submit their lives to Jesus Christ, we are able to deconstruct the pain and suffering and begin to build a life centered around the ultimate Healer who offers perfect peace. By focusing on the core problem and the solutions, we can help addicts of this kind to adopt healthy behavior and grow closer to Christ in the process.

Making sure God and the Bible are the foundation of the treatment process and the talk therapies so the most powerful healing force as well as the necessary life management principles are clear, practical, and psychologically sound. Healing, renewing the mind, and life transformation will be soon to follow.

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