Substance Use Disorders and Getting Help during the Holiday Season

Even in the best years, the holiday season can be a difficult time for many people. And let’s be honest here: very few of us would describe 2020 as a “best year.”

Typically, the challenges of this season include feeling pressured to find the perfect gift for everyone on our list, worrying about the financial impact of all this gift-giving, navigating family and workplace get-togethers, and trying to live up to an array of unrealistic expectations.

This year, of course, these obstacles are magnified by the fact that they’re occurring in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, no one is immune to the difficulties of the holidays, or of 2020 in general. But for women and girls who are struggling with substance use disorders, the stress, pressure, and uncertainty can be particularly devastating.

The Scope of the Problem

Substance use and addiction are unfortunately common among women and girls.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), more than 19.5 million women age 18 and older in the United States used illicit substances in the past year, and more than 8 million adult women misused a prescription medication during the same time period.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that about 67% of high school seniors in the U.S. have used alcohol, more than 50% have tried marijuana, and about 20% have used prescription medication that was not prescribed to them.

The Impact of the Pandemic

A United Nations policy brief titled “The Impact of COVID-19 on Women” noted that women and girls may be disproportionally affected by pandemic-related economic setbacks, job loss, childcare responsibilities, and gender-based violence.

“The pandemic is deepening pre-existing inequalities, exposing vulnerabilities in social, political and economic systems which are in turn amplifying the impacts of the pandemic,” the policy brief’s authors wrote.

Job loss, long-term unemployment, disrupted academic progress, abuse, the death of loved ones, and other traumatic effects of the coronavirus pandemic can push women and girls deeper into the downward spiral of substance use and addiction.

The Unique Stresses of the Season

As challenging as this time of year can be for women and girls who are struggling with addiction, the problem may be made even worse by the misguided belief that they need to hold themselves together and somehow find a way to get through the holidays.

Yes, we all want our holidays to be times of joy and celebration. No, no one envisions spending this special time of year in an addiction treatment facility. But the truth is that substance use disorders are chronic, progressive conditions that won’t simply disappear because we want them to.

Waiting for a more convenient or acceptable time to get professional help for addiction keeps women and girls trapped in a pattern of self-defeating behaviors that, in turn, put them at increased risk for a wide range of negative outcomes, including death.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way.

The Path Forward

If you are an adolescent girl or an adult woman who has been struggling with an addiction to alcohol or another drug, please take these three simple statements to heart:

  • Help is available.
  • Treatment works.
  • You can achieve the healthier and more hopeful future you deserve.

Best of all, you can start your recovery journey today.

Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center is a safe and welcoming place where women and girls can receive the comprehensive services that will put them on the path to successful long-term recovery. We offer age-appropriate programming and compassionate support, and we’re committed to providing each woman or girl with the customized care that will best meet their unique needs.

You don’t have to wait for the holidays to be over. You don’t have to wait for the pandemic to pass. And you don’t have to wait for a time when you think it will be more convenient to get treatment.

A member of our team is available 24/7 to answer all your questions and help you determine if Timberline Knolls can provide the services you need.

When you’re ready, we’re here for you.