How to Discuss A Substance Use Disorder in December

By December 3, 2021Addiction
man wearing black knit hat

December is a time of celebration. Holiday gatherings are festive and often include substances that can impair a person’s ability to drive safely or make responsible decisions. During December, it is essential to talk with clients about how substance use affects their well-being.

National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

In 1981, officials proclaimed December National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. Since then, officials across the country have promoted the importance of staying sober while driving. In 2012, former President Barrack Obama declared December National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. The name change was necessary to define impaired driving, including distracted driving, such as texting, talking on the phone, drugged driving, and drunk driving.

December’s designation as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month is appropriate because accident rates increase significantly during the holiday season. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports the instances to increase between Christmas and the New Year. During an average year, about 30 million people drive under the influence of alcohol, while another 10 million drive under the influence of drugs. In addition, the National Safety Council reported over forty thousand people died in alcohol-related accidents last year. A client’s use of substances during the holidays may reflect a more significant issue: substance addiction.

Substance Use Disorder

Substance addiction professionals and mental health therapists are uniquely positioned to guide a person with a SUD to discover how to live a substance-free life. In addition, professionals dedicated to their clients’ psychological and physical well-being can also relay the importance of being free of substances.

Working Towards Sobriety

Clients may not see their substance use as an addiction. Some will use defense mechanisms to support their claims. People who employ defense mechanisms may want to avoid uncomfortable thoughts, harmful events, or actions. Therefore, trying to talk to a client about their SUD is often met with defense mechanisms such as:

  • Denial
  • Projection
  • Sarcasm
  • Manipulation

A client’s resistance to accepting they have a SUD is normal. However, a therapist who engages a client in psychotherapy can guide them towards recognizing and admitting they need help for their SUD.

Clients can discuss their drinking or drug use patterns, triggers, or behaviors once they concede they need help for their SUD. Clients may think they can quit on their own. However, for their safety, they should enter a professionally staffed detoxification program. Physical symptoms like fatigue, nausea, seizures, or confusion are why medically supervised detox is vital. Withdrawal from substances is not only challenging to the body but likewise to the mind. Once a client is free from substances, they can begin to heal their mind and body.

Programs designed to meet a client’s individualized needs bolster active engagement in the treatment process. Substance addiction treatment programs that provide comprehensive care are essential. Comprehensive care is integral because it educates clients about their addiction while integrating healthy habits into their daily routine.

Relapsing Addicts Defense Mechanisms

While many seek SUD treatment to help them stop using substances, others enter a substance addiction treatment program to prevent relapse. When clients enter a substance addiction program, they may do so after attempting to quit independently. Substance addiction programs offer comprehensive care that engages their mind and body in the healing process. Clients who seek guidance in finding a treatment program admit they need help and are powerless over their substance(s) of choice.

Substance relapse prevention consists of four fundamental ideas:

  • First, relapse occurs gradually in four distinct stages.
  • Second, a client’s recovery progresses as they grow and achieve milestones.
  • Third, cognitive therapy and holistic therapies like meditation, mindfulness, or yoga are integral to help maintain sobriety. These coping skills guide a client to rethink how they perceive an uncomfortable situation or event.
  • Fourth, education regarding addiction helps clients understand their underlying mental health issues.

Sometimes people relapse but are unwilling to admit they need help. When this happens, they will employ various defense mechanisms like those who haven’t accepted they have a SUD. The urge to protect themselves from judgment or self-blame is natural. The study, Relationships Between Defense Mechanisms and Coping Styles Among Relapsing Addicts, found relapsing addicts use neurotic defense mechanisms and task-oriented coping styles more than other coping mechanisms. Some addicts combine neurotic, maturity, or emotion-related coping techniques with each other.

Promoting or encouraging a client to enter a substance addiction program may seem counterintuitive during December; however, with the highest rate of accidents occurring during the week between Christmas and the New Year, substance addiction treatment may save a life.

The designation of December as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month is purposeful. During the month, alcohol or drug-related driving accidents increase. Discussing the statistics of substance-related accidents can give a mental health therapist the chance to discuss a client’s substance addiction. If clients become defensive about their substance use disorder, engaging them in psychotherapy and holistic therapies may provide the necessary tools to help them seek treatment. However, once a client decides to stop using substances, entering a detoxification program is vital for their health and safety. A key to recovery is learning about addiction and how to replace harmful habits with a healthy lifestyle. The programs offered at Alta Centers combine the belief that each person has their own needs while in treatment, and serenity increases focus on their healing. Our luxurious center, nestled in the Hollywood Hills, is where peace replaces distractions. We welcome questions about our programs. Call (888) 202-2583.