Holidays Can Worsen Alcohol and Substance Abuse Problems

Every year since 1981, the President has declared the month of December as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, formerly known as National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month, as a time when the nation must “recommit to preventing tragedy before it strikes by ensuring our family members and friends stay safe, sober, and drug-free on the road.”

At Casa Palmera Treatment Center, we are a holistic-based residential behavioral health treatment facility that recognizes that the holiday season marks a dramatic increase in alcohol and substance abuse, as well as impaired driving, and encourages those who are struggling with alcoholism or chemical dependency not to wait until after the holidays to seek treatment.

In December 2010, nearly 2,600 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes, 30 percent of which involved an alcohol-impaired driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The holiday season in late December and early January is particularly dangerous. About 40 percent of all traffic fatalities during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday weeks occur in wrecks where at least one of the involved drivers was driving under the influence of alcohol, a significant increase from all traffic fatalities during the rest of December, according to the NHTSA.

Another study by the NHTSA in 2009 found that 33% of drivers who died in traffic wrecks and were tested for the presence of drugs came back positive for at least one drug. This included illegal substances as well as over-the-counter and prescription medications, all of which may impair one’s ability to drive.

Casa Palmera’s professionals recognize that Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s activities can cause mounting pressure and stress on individuals’ finances, time and energy, which can exacerbate alcohol and substance abuse, aggravate eating disorders, including anorexia and bulimia, and may worsen mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

Casa Palmera Treatment Center specializes in the treatment of drug and alcohol problems, substance abuse, mood disorders, and eating disorders. Casa Palmera also provides tailored treatment programs for those suffering from co-occurring disorders, when an individual suffers from both a substance-abuse problem and a mental disorder such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, depression or anxiety. Casa Palmera is accredited by the Joint Commission and offers a unique approach to recovery that draws from the best of modern science as well as ancient healing techniques. Casa Palmera’s diverse treatment plans include individual and group therapy, psycho-educational interactive groups, and a wide variety of holistic treatments such as yoga, art therapy and meditation.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.