Coping with mental health and addiction during the holiday season

A mental health expert at Treasure Valley explained that the holiday season can be stimulating for some. For others, it may be an opportunity to help.

Boise, Idaho – The holiday season features more get-togethers and celebrations with family and friends. It’s a happy time for many, but it can be challenging for those dealing with mental health issues and addictions.

“Make no mistake about it, mental health and substance abuse are comorbid conditions,” said Northpoint Recovery Advanced Practice Provider Todd Salzsieder PA-C, M. Ed. “It’s important that we recognize that and treat them as such as opposed to some kind of personality weakness.”

Salsider said social events such as an office party or a large family gathering can trigger social anxiety, which often leads to alcohol or other substance abuse in order to cope.

However, since the holiday season may be a trigger for some, Salzsieder explained to KTVB that it may also be an opportunity for others to help notice and acknowledge certain habits.

“There can be a variety of things,” Salsider said. “A lot of the time, alcoholism develops into a very serious form where they don’t drink in public in front of others. There sure are people who drink a lot in public, and that’s clearly a problem but for me For some people, it develops into a special disease.”

Salzsieder explained some of the signs to watch out for: someone is drunk more than they should be after one or two drinks, or someone runs away to secluded places and comes back drunk more than they should have been before, or someone tends to spend more of time alone in group functions.

“Just general signs of anxiety and depression,” Salsider said. “If they appear to be emotionally exhausted but seem to be constantly taking a new drink and becoming calmer throughout the evening, they are probably drinking to control those feelings.”

To be able to have a conversation with a friend or family member who exhibits these types of behaviors, Salzsieder said depends on your relationship level.

“When people suffer from mental health conditions and addictions, they want others to go unnoticed,” Salzider said. “They have spent time trying to get others to not notice. So, if you notice and you don’t have a close relationship, they are offensive or very defensive. “.

If so, Salzsieder advises them to get in touch with their close friend or relative. However, if there was no such person in their life, Salzsieder said to try to connect with a group of people who also cared about them to do some kind of intervention.

“It’s very important that you don’t always treat it as, ‘You, you, you do this and you shouldn’t do this,’ but ‘Look, we all care about you,’ or ‘I care about you a lot. I care what I see and I just want to make sure you’re okay.”

While this may be an issue that someone feels they need to take care of right away, Salzsieder said a holiday or holiday party might not be the time to tackle it. He suggests putting it up in an organic setting, such as for coffee or lunch.

“I wouldn’t feel too pressured to deal with it right away, right away, unless it’s something blatantly dangerous like they’re drunk and they’re going to get in and drive a car,” Salsider added.

He points out that it’s important to treat people with these mental health issues, such as by inviting them to holiday parties.

If someone with an alcohol addiction would come to a holiday party, Salsider said to set the party down. It is advised to keep drinks in another room or not to drink alcohol at all. The same goes for those with social anxiety, his suggestion might be to have a smaller encounter so they don’t feel overwhelmed.

“Sometimes there is a fear that if we invite our uncle who is recovering from alcoholism or our cousin who suffers from social anxiety, we are causing them more distress and we will cause them to feel overwhelmed when it is quite the opposite,” Salzider said.

According to Salzider, one of the most useful tools for people to get better is connecting with others they care about.

“People care about you a lot more than you think they do, and they are willing to help you find that help,” Salzsieder said.

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