Eat, drink and be merry – this is the festive season's slogan and while that's all well and good for those of us who can be moderate in our intake of food and alcohol, for many people who have a history of alcohol use or abuse, or are recovering from alcoholism, the Christmas holidays can be the most difficult time of the year.
The holiday season is usually synonymous with family gatherings, office parties, social events, and many opportunities for drinking, and often more than usual. However, these situations can be triggering and very stressful to someone who is trying to avoid drinking over the festive season or trying to prevent from relapsing which could have serious consequences to their recovery but also physical health.
Many people use alcohol as a way to cope with stress or escape their problems, and 2020 has provided many reasons for so many people to turn to alcohol as a way to self-medicate. 2020 has been an incredibly difficult year for so many people, with increased uncertainty, anxiety, depression, stress, family problems, financial stress, unemployment, loss, grief and trauma – drinking seems like a “quick fix” or an easy way out.
However, relapsing or drinking excessively has serious consequences on relationships, work, finances and physical health. A relapse could result in someone feeling depressed, guilty, ashamed and even suicidal. Especially since alcohol is a depressant, increased drinking or excessive drinking could lead to a deeper depression and lower your overall mood.
Clinical Psychologist, Reabetsoe Buys says “While drinking over the holidays may seem like a good way to unwind and celebrate the end of an incredibly stressful year, consuming alcohol has been shown to exacerbate symptoms of depression, anxiety and aggression. While the short term effects of drinking alcohol may be experienced as pleasant, the long term effects tend to be more negative and longer lasting.”