Substance abuse counselors worry 2020 holiday season will increase alcohol abuse

"It's supposed to be the most joyous time of the year. For some people, it's the time of greatest struggle, and that's not even if it's compounded by loss and now by the pandemic," said Mary Beck, Executive Vice-President for the Council on Recovery in Houston.

The non-profit helps those struggling with substance abuse including alcohol.

Becks says during the last two weeks of the year, alcohol consumption increases 70 percent.


"In a time of isolation, people might turn to drinking to soothe their stress and calm their nerves as well. So, we expect to be even greater than 70 percent this year and that's very concerning," she added.

She says overdose deaths have increased throughout the pandemic, and, generally, around the holidays they go up 22 percent.

"People relapse over the holidays quite significantly," Beck noted.

She says sometimes just the sights and smells associated with the holidays can be a trigger.

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A survey by American Addiction Centers found almost half of Americans say drinking at Christmas is part of a family tradition.

For someone who struggle with alcohol, Beck urges them to work with a counselor to create a plan ahead of a holiday gathering.

"Planning ahead and knowing what you're going to say is that situation is vital to your success. If you wait for the moment to happen, you might not give the response that you really want to," Beck explained.

If you know someone in your family struggles with alcohol, find alternative ways to celebrate.

"Have game nights, do other things besides just engaging in alcohol," Beck insisted.

She adds their counselors also work closely with other family members.

"They deal over 50 percent of the time with family members not with the person who has the problem," Beck said. "They are there to help them figure out how to talk to their family member."