If holiday or vacation drunkenness and drugging gets out of control, is this a sign of a real problem? What are the signs of alcoholism and drug addiction?

Imagine time off from work or other responsibilities such as a holiday or vacation. Is a drink or some form of drug automatically connected with relaxation? Do you anticipate what you will drink, smoke or use? Can you have a good time without getting high using some type of drink, substance or chemical? Reliance on chemically induced happiness might be replacing the natural good times.

When relief from pain or discomfort requires non-prescribed chemicals or if you simply have to have a drink, bump, snort, puff to set yourself into a better mood, you may have come to rely too heavily on those substances.

The DSM 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th Edition- American Psychiatric Association) proposes the following as common signs of a substance use disorder, commonly called “addiction”. If you present three (3), the chances are high for having a substance use disorder/ addiction:

  • Failure to meet responsibilities/ obligations due to use
  • Risk and danger created when using
  • Continued use despite negative social and financial consequences
  • A need for more quantity of the substance to achieve the same high or state of relief
  • Symptoms of withdrawal (hangovers, lows, come-downs) when using stops or has been interrupted
  • Inability to control or decrease use
  • Taking a higher quantity than was originally intended
  • More time is spent getting and preparing to use the drink or drug
  • Recreational activities and events are substituted with drinking or using
  • Continued use despite adverse psychological or medical effects
  • Craving, hunger or a strong desire for the effect of the chemical.

Are recreational, leisure events with family or friends being sacrificed for opportunities to drink or get high? Does having a good time require drinking or using (partying)?

Recovery allows the addict to return to or pursue new healthy and natural highs. Being with friends and family or attending a sporting event or entertainment can become once again enjoyable. Simple pleasures slowly return. The color returns to a once gray world.

If you or a loved one miss the times where a vacation or holiday meant a good time to relax and enjoy friends and/or family, recovery is possible. There are many ways to start. Call a sober friend. Go to a 12-step meeting or mutual support group.  Carefully select or get a referral to call a treatment center. Schedule an appointment with an addiction specialist or therapist.

Life can be fun again. You can again enjoy time off without the drama created by the over use of alcohol or other drugs.