In spite of its intended effects, the holiday season affects different people in different ways. For some people, lost loved ones, employment issues and family conflicts can make this time of year hard to bear.
For people struggling with opium abuse, the added stress and pressure that comes with the holidays can greatly aggravate drug-using behaviors. When opium abuse or the abuse of opium-based drugs is a factor, understanding how holiday stress can pose a threat to your overall well-being and safety can go a long way towards deciding to make the necessary changes to ensure a safe and happy holiday season.
Life goes on in the face of difficulties and unforeseen events. As the holidays roll around, more than a few people may be juggling mixed emotions, while trying to make the most of the season.
These conditions create the perfect storm for someone struggling with opium abuse issues. Holiday festivities often provide reasons or “opportunities” to engage in alcohol and drug use as such activities have become more so the norm during celebratory times. For those dealing with financial problems and/or family conflicts, feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety can further aggravate drug-using tendencies.
The Opium Abuse Cycle
Opium and opium-based drugs encompass a range of prescription pain medications as well as illicit drugs like heroin. Regardless the form of opium used the opium abuse cycle progresses in the same way.
Opium interacts with the brain on a cellular level, altering essential brain chemical pathways, creating a state of progressive dependency that eventually leads to addiction. According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, as dependency takes hold, the frequency of withdrawal episodes increases accordingly.
As anyone who abuses opium well knows, withdrawal discomfort tends to drive ongoing opium abuse. Herein lies the opium abuse cycle, a cycle that can easily gain momentum during the holiday season.
Both daily stressors and ongoing stress play an integral role in perpetuating the opium abuse cycle. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, drugs and alcohol activate the same brain neuro-circuits as stress.
While it may seem like opium offers a form of relief, ongoing drug use only increases stress levels in an indirect way. In effect, stress and opium abuse form another vicious cycle that promotes continued drug use.
With the initial opium abuse cycle already at work, holiday stressors can easily kick drug use into high gear. Holiday stressors may take any number of forms, including:
- Cold and/or harsh weather conditions
- Sadness or loneliness
- Money problems
- Family expectations
- Family problems
As the brain’s tolerance for opium rises fairly quickly with regular use, a person may find him or herself doubling drug dose amounts within a short period of time.
Dangers of Opium Abuse
Opium works as a central nervous system depressant, blocking pain signals from reaching the brain. Opium also slows down most every major bodily system. With opium abuse, once dosage amounts reach a certain point, the brain can no longer regulate the body’s major systems.
More often than not, the respiratory system shuts down leaving a person unable to breathe. While it can be easy to assume this will never happen to you, the right combination of opium and alcohol can quickly overpower the brain’s functional capacity.
If you or someone you know struggles with opium abuse this holiday season, getting needed treatment help sooner rather than later greatly increases your chance of a successful and safe recovery. If you have any further questions about opium abuse, or seek information regarding treatment programs in your area, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-584-3274 to speak with one of our phone counselors.