intervention holidays

Intervention: Should You Talk to Your Loved One This Holiday Season?

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Intervention During the Holiday Season? 

Holidays can be filled with so many things. Family, friends, community. Winter’s chill, lights, and neighborhood get-togethers. Oh, and there are also powerful emotions, gift buying, and all the overwhelm of everything to get done. It is wonderful, and it is intense. Sometimes at the exact same time and because of the same people or places.

It is not uncommon for our loved ones with substance use disorders to enter the season and find that it is too much for them. Yes, all too often, addiction rears its head for all to see and experience during the holidays. And you are once again left wondering, how far should I let things go before I say something?

This holiday season might be the right time to talk to a loved one about their addiction.

Root of Addiction

There are a couple of things to remember about why the holidays invoke the symptoms of drug and alcohol abuse: stress and triggers. People who abuse drugs or alcohol have more than a drug or drinking problem. They have deeper emotional and psychological issues that are the root reason why they turn to substances.


Your loved one uses mind-altering substances to find an escape. Often life is just too much. The stress of interacting with their surroundings and the realities of existence has to get numbed. And of course, the holidays heighten all of this. Certainly, there is plenty of joy to be had. However, for a person struggling with addiction—possibly also depression or a number of other anxiety or mental issues—the holidays can have the opposite effect.


The other reason addictions run rampant during the holidays are what are known as “triggers.” Basically, a trigger is anything that can push a person back to using their chosen substance. They can be people, places, things, words, ideas, songs—almost anything. If drinking or using drugs has been a way for someone to cope with life in the past, then even a time of year can bring about a psychological “need” to find a fix.

This is significant not just for the person who is currently lost to addiction, it is also important to remember if your loved one is actually a recovering addict, with some sobriety under their belt. These triggers have the ability to wake certain cravings that might have been dormant for some time and make relapse a possibility.

Here are some common triggers your loved one might come across this season:

  • Financial stress (gift buying)
  • Seasonal depression
  • Happiness (this seems counterintuitive, but drugs or alcohol is a favorite way for an addict to celebrate
  • Parties where their substance is being used by others
  • Family members and conflict
  • Intense emotions
  • These are just a few, but they are important.

Should You Bring It Up?

People often make their bigger life change decisions after the holidays. So you might be tempted to put it off and try to placate the situation until then. However, you probably already know what this season is going to look like. Maybe you have seen it before. Or you are dreading how things are going to go down as December progresses. The old saying rings true in this situation: Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

Addiction is serious business. The consequences are dire. And because the holidays can be a season of great difficulty for a person with substance use disorders, the risks are more pronounced. Binge drug use and binge drinking are common occurrences. And that kind of activity is particularly dangerous. So is driving under the influence and criminal activity associated with drug and alcohol abuse. All the same reasons that a person should find sobriety the rest of the year, but now in a more pronounced way.

It would be best to confront them before things go from calm to chaotic right in the middle of the holidays.

If you are nervous or sad thinking your loved one might be in addiction treatment away from the family during Christmas, just remember: it might be a sacrifice this year, but the result of having your loved one return to you free from addiction would be priceless. It would offer so many more happy holiday seasons to come.

How to Conduct an Intervention

If you are thinking about confronting a loved one this holiday season, please call us. We can help guide you through the process and let you know what your options are. We know how overwhelming it can be to find help for a loved one with an addiction, call us and we will walk you through it, 1-844-489-0836.

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