Mental health, recovery specialists give tips for people struggling during the holidays

Published: Nov. 24, 2022 at 2:06 PM EST
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - When many of us think of the holiday season, we may get excited at the thought of spending time with loved ones or attending holiday gatherings. But for some people, the holidays cause more stress and anxiety, especially for those in recovery or people battling mental health issues.

“The holidays can be triggering in a lot of ways, even without an underlying mental illness, because you have obligations, social obligations and family events,” said behavioral health specialist with Baptist Health Corbin, Dr. Jonathan Martin. “If you add addiction or you add depression or anxiety, underlying or at baseline, on top of that, it can be much worse.”

Adam Maggard with Kentucky River Community Care said, for people in recovery or active addiction, grief or other triggering factors can make the holidays especially hard.

“If someone’s not been here in a while and they come back, they see an old house, see an old friend, maybe get something offered to them that they haven’t been offered before... that definitely runs a risk,” said Maggard. “Its just all where you are in your recovery, I think, for the most part.”

Dr. Martin said, if you struggle with addiction or mental health issues, you should come up with a holiday game plan.

“It’d be a good idea to have a game plan going forward, maybe avoid events if you know people are drinking if you do have that problem at baseline,” said Dr. Martin. “If it is a big social situation, see if you can meet them somewhere. Have a smaller group setting before they have their big event.”

If you have a loved one who struggles with mental health or substance abuse disorders, it is best to be patient and accommodating.

“If they can’t stay for the full event or if they can’t do the big group situation, don’t force it, but be gentle and maybe meet them half way,” added Dr. Martin.

If you or someone you know needs mental health or recovery resources, we have some listed below: