How the Holidays are Handled by Different Types of Substance Abusers

When the holidays are just around the corner, it is necessary to watch your staff more closely. Not only are feelings of euphoria prevalent, but they can also encourage drug and alcohol abuse in order to maintain the natural high. In addition to this, with regard to family get-togethers, event planning, office and private parties, traveling, weather and the obvious depletion of one’s checkbook, employees can abuse drugs and alcohol due to stress and anxiety. What are signs of different types of substance abusers which you should watch for during the festive time of the year?

Alcoholics tend to use this time as a cover-up for their regular abuse:

According to Ames and Grube,[1] alcoholism in the workplace can be considered directly proportional to the availability of alcohol within the working environment. Even at a job, availability increases during weekends and holiday times, particularly the beginning of the holiday season and the end of any week during this time. If everyone is drinking, then it is less of a social faux pas to be drunk or in any way intoxicated.  Social boundaries help to define acceptable and unacceptable behavior among a group of people. Holidays are a breeding ground for covering up preexisting alcohol abuse.

Drug abusers tend to use this time to cope with holiday stress:

While natural serotonin production rewards the brain with positive reinforcement, the holiday season brings stress hormones and adrenaline surges, particularly the fight-or-flight signals.[2] These signals occur continuously in dangerous weather conditions, among rude or insulting visiting family, or amid crowded and angst-filled shopping malls. Even though the holiday season is supposed to be a time of joy, warmth and giving, your neurotransmitters are continuously telling your brain that your very life is in danger. Most people can handle this high stress in a somewhat reasonable manner, but even the lightest of drug abuse can turn into heavy addictive behavior in this chaotic atmosphere. This would be the time to watch your employees closely, keep your voice at an even tone, and remain calm during high stress situations in order to not flip the fight-or-flight switch in your underlings.

Hard drug abusers actually use more or less during the holidays, depending upon income:

Since hard drug abusers use a greater percentage of their disposable income upon their substance abuse, their usage is almost directly correlated with their amount of money.[3] Hard drug abuse is more prevalent at the beginning of the month in government-funded communities, and exhibits significantly less as the month progresses or during the holiday season, as funds deplete. This is, however, only applicable to those with limited or low incomes, and wealthier individuals tend to increase their usage during the holiday season.

1. Ames, Genevieve, and Joel Grube. “Alcohol Availability and Workplace Drinking: Mixed Method Analyses.” Questia. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2010.

2. “Pat Moore Foundation | Alcohol and Drug Abuse Can Spike During Sressful Holiday Season.” Pat Moore Foundation | Drug Detox, Alcohol Detox & Addiction Treatment Center in Costa Mesa, CA and Orange County, CA. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2010.

3. Halpern, Scott, and C. Mechem. “Declining rate of substance abuse throughout the month.” The American Journal of Medicine. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2010.

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