Addiction Worsened by Financial & Family Stress During the Holidays

The holiday season, often associated with cheer and festive celebrations, can paradoxically bring about significant stress and emotional turmoil. This stress can stem from a variety of sources, particularly financial pressures and family-related conflicts. According to data cited by the American Psychological Association, 58% of U.S. adults identify spending and financial concerns as a major source of holiday stress. Additionally, the expectations of familial harmony, coupled with increased social interactions, can exacerbate existing family tensions or unresolved issues.

Such elevated stress during the holidays has been linked to an increase in substance abuse. The emotional strain of the holidays can trigger feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. These negative emotions can lead some to turn to drugs or alcohol as an unhealthy coping mechanism, causing existing substance abuse issues to worsen or new ones to develop. The popularity of social gatherings involving alcohol and the desire to escape from stressful or uncomfortable situations can further contribute to these issues.

Understanding Holiday Stress

The holiday season can often bring about financial stress that significantly impacts individuals' emotional well-being. The pressure to purchase gifts, travel, host events, or create the "perfect" holiday experience can lead to monetary strain. This financial stress can be particularly acute for those already dealing with economic hardship, leading to feelings of guilt, anxiety, and inadequacy. The fear of not being able to meet the holiday expectations, coupled with the broader societal emphasis on gift-giving during this period, can exacerbate these negative emotions and potentially contribute to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance abuse.

Family-related stress is another significant aspect of holiday pressures. The holidays often involve increased social interactions and high expectations for harmony and happiness within a family. However, these expectations can clash with the reality of unresolved family conflicts, difficult relationships, or the absence of loved ones. The pressure to maintain familial bliss can intensify feelings of loneliness, sadness, and frustration. Moreover, for individuals with strained family relationships or who have experienced loss, the holidays can serve as a painful reminder of these issues, triggering emotional distress. In such cases, some may resort to substance use to cope with the overwhelming feelings and risk a spiral into addiction.

The Link Between Holiday Stress & Addiction

The connection between holiday stress and addiction has been widely established through various studies and reports, as well as generally through the average person’s observations. With financial and family stress piling up, many will mistakenly reach for an addictive substance for temporary “relief.” Unfortunately, such behavior is so common that it can be difficult to recognize as a problem, and some people might not even show the signs that they are developing a problem. Their loved ones will need to pay attention and offer support when appropriate.

Signs that holiday stress related to finances and family might be affecting someone include:

  • Increased anxiety or worry about money
  • Overemphasis on "perfect" celebrations
  • Heightened family conflicts
  • Changes in behavior
  • Increased substance use
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Physical symptoms like headaches or fatigue

Spend the Holidays Sober – Decision Point Center Can Help

At Decision Point Center in Arizona, our substance addiction recovery specialists recognize that addiction is a complex issue, often compounded by various personal and environmental factors. This understanding informs our approach to creating personalized treatment plans for individuals struggling with substance abuse, including those feeling triggered by financial and family stress during the holiday season. We conduct comprehensive assessments to understand the unique circumstances and triggers of everyone who comes to us for help. If holiday-related stressors such as financial pressures or family conflicts are part of the problem, we design the treatment plan to account for them, such as therapy sessions focused on developing coping mechanisms for managing financial stress, or family therapy to address and resolve familial tensions.

If you are struggling with substance addiction and the holidays might make it worse, there’s no better time than now to see how Decision Point Center can help. Please call (844) 292-5010 or submit an online contact form to learn more about our services and how we empower you to overcome addiction.