Holiday Blues Trigger Increased Alcohol, Drug Use

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Better Tomorrow has seen a 50 percent increase in requests for drug and alcohol interventions across the country since October, a spike clinic therapists attribute to the holiday blues.

"Families are usually the biggest stressors around the holidays because mental health problems often have their roots in difficult family relationships," said Dan Chapman, director of A Positive Outcome Intervention Services at A Better Tomorrow in Murrieta. "People use more alcohol and drugs as a coping mechanism, and that sets the stage for a crisis. We see this happen every year as we approach the holidays. It's a good thing people are calling, of course, because this means more people who need help are getting into treatment."

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Addicts usually deny that they have a problem, even when their addictions are tearing apart their families or leading them down a path toward unemployment or financial ruin. Addicts typically will not listen to advice from their families, either. That's why a professional interventionist is often needed to convince the addict to seek professional counseling and treatment.

A Better Tomorrow provides professional intervention services as well as residential and outpatient treatment programs for alcohol abuse as well as addiction to illegal and prescription drugs.

"People often try to minimize the significance of marijuana addiction as if it's less damaging than cocaine or methamphetamines," Chapman said. "But marijuana addiction still leads to employment problems, alienation from family members and other mental health problems."

Addiction to prescription painkillers is also becoming an increasing problem, Chapman said, citing A Better Tomorrow's clinical experience as well as a recent statistics compiled by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which found that nonmedical use of prescription drugs among young adults had increased from 5.4 percent in 2002 to 6.4 percent in 2006.

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