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Christmas can be a turning point for those suffering with addictions to seek treatment

Addiction experts at Priory Group are urging people to take advantage of a FREE addictions assessment in the new year if the holiday season has highlighted a growing problem.

It may be the season to be merry for most people but Christmas can be a particularly difficult time of year for people suffering from an addiction. Individuals who have not acknowledged that they need help may come to accept their addiction issues after struggling through the festive holiday season.

The atmosphere and excitement surrounding Christmas reinforces the feelings of low self-esteem and low self-worth which can manifest in individuals suffering from an addiction. This may make it even harder to fight an addiction during the festive period.

An estimated two million people in the UK are believed to suffer from an addiction of some sort. The four most common addictions are also the ones that are the most difficult to cope with at Christmas:

With the debate of the recently proposed minimum price for the sale of alcohol in England still rumbling, the Government has highlighted its commitment to tackling early onset indicators of an addiction to alcohol.

Peter Smith, Service Line Director at Priory Group said: “The stresses of the festive season can bring problems to the fore and if this encourages people to ask for help that can only be a good thing. Our free addictions assessment can be the first step towards recovery.

“It can become very difficult for people to deal with the anxiety caused by the financial and consumer pressures of the festive season. Difficult family and relationship situations can be exacerbated at this time of year. For someone suffering with an addiction, this is intensified by trying to avoid temptation at a time when the rest of the population appears to be celebrating."

During December, alcohol consumption in the UK increases by 41%. There are a number of reasons why some people end up drinking too much at a consistent level, including the financial strain caused by overspending, the pressure to be upbeat and act as the ‘perfect host', spending extended periods with relatives, and the need for confidence in social situations, such as the office Christmas party.

 “The new year can seem a very bleak place, especially for those struggling with substance misuse.”

An over-reliance on recreational drugs or ‘club drugs’ may also manifest itself over the Christmas period. Every day, thousands of young people in the UK are using ‘club drugs’ and this will continue through the Christmas party season. Statistics from The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse reveal that 6,486 people were treated for problems relating to club drugs in England so far this year, up from 4,656 people in 2006.

These drugs have some desirable effects for users but also come with a long list of potentially serious adverse effects. The drugs can cause general feelings of pleasure and empathy, increased energy, and acute awareness to emotion (a 'rush'). Many cause the user to dissociate from the environment, allowing him or her to stay awake or dance for several hours without feeling fatigue.

Despite reports to the contrary, and a belief that recreational drugs are safe to use, they can also result in serious mental health problems, some of them of long duration and with very damaging consequences.

If people using these drugs seek help at an early stage through proper medical, psychological and social support, they are very likely to make a long-term recovery.

Peter Smith concluded: “While the vast majority of people will come through Christmas unscathed there will be those for whom it is a desperate time. Admitting to a having a problem and consequently seeking treatment can be the first step towards being able to enjoy Christmas and the new year in the future.”

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