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DEMCO wants you to Know the Joy of the Holiday!

This doesn't have to be the most dangerous time of the year.

For many, the end of the year brings images of happy families gathered around a Christmas tree, big dinners of turkey and stuffing, holiday music, and cozy fires. For others, the holidays can be a much darker and more difficult time – a time of family conflict, financial strain, loneliness, grief, and seasonal affective disorder.

If you find the holidays to be a difficult time, you are certainly not alone. A Google search for “grief and the holidays” shows nearly 2.2 million results. Seasonal affective disorder (also known as SAD and seasonal depression) affects 6 percent of Americans. Another 14 percent experience a lesser form of seasonal mood change known as the winter blues.

The emotional strains of the holidays and winter weather take a grave toll – during the holiday months of December and January, the CDC reports that alcohol-and-drug-induced deaths spike.

A poll indicated that the majority of Americans are either overwhelmingly or moderately stressed during the holidays. For someone struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, the holidays can be an especially trying time to maintain sobriety. According to the CDC, the most dangerous times of the year for drug-and-alcohol-related deaths are December, January, and March. Nearly 91,000 deaths have been reported for the month of December since 1999.

Holiday Alcohol Consumption When asked how the holidays impacted people's drinking behavior, nearly half of our male and female survey respondents said they consumed the same amount of alcohol. However, about 29 percent said they drink more during the holidays. While holiday drinking may be brought on by celebration, our survey data also indicates that holiday stressors may play a role in over-consumption and the resulting spike in drug and alcohol-related deaths.

Silent Night Stressful Night

What may be causing all the holiday stress? Finances and gift-giving topped holiday stress lists. The average American will spend over $750 on gifts. Parents – especially those with more than one child – are often driven to make their children’s holiday wishes come true. Many even go into debt to make their little ones happy. The financial pressure of gift-giving extends beyond children or even family. Gift exchanges take place among co-workers, friends, and even service providers.

Be Grateful, Thankful, and talk to your family and friends. Move away from the stressors of life, these are the first steps in substance abuse prevention.

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