An understanding of prevention leads to a much more proactive stance in regards to helping people before they need the help. It may be observed on television that there are numerous anti smoking and anti drug use commercials that are geared towards a young audience. Being aware of all the risks and the actions that can be taken may be quite helpful as this press release indicates…

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, November 23, 2009
CONTACT: ONDCP Public Affairs, 202-395-6618

ONDCP Launches Awareness Campaign on Holiday Challenges for Americans in Recovery from Addiction


It is difficult to avoid relapse without the support of loved ones.

(Washington, D.C.)—The holiday season, a time of joy and celebration, also poses daunting challenges for over 10 million Americans in recovery from addiction. As the season begins, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy is launching an awareness campaign asking families, friends and communities to offer support and encouragement to those in recovery.

“Substance abuse affects millions of Americans, their families and their communities, at all levels of our society,” said ONDCP Director Gil Kerlikowske. “Many who have struggled with addiction have made the courageous decision to seek help and begin the promising path to recovery.

“However, at this time of year, those in recovery often face many of the same stresses and emotions that once contributed to their substance abuse. But with the help of family, friends and community, those in recovery can win the daily struggle to remain clean and sober and emerge from the holidays on course for a continuing recovery,” Kerlikowske said.

In 2008, an estimated 23.1 million people age 12 and older were in need of treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem. Of those people, 2.3 million received treatment at a specialty facility. Experts believe that the holiday period often brings special stresses to bear on recovering people that can trigger relapse.

ONDCP Deputy Director Dr. Thomas McLellan, a respected expert on addiction and treatment, said there are several reasons the holidays pose particular challenges to people recovering from addiction.

At holiday parties and celebrations, often there is substantial substance use and abuse, with accompanying social pressure to join in, he said.

“That’s tough: you have all the cues there, the substance is accessible, and its use is encouraged,” said Dr. McLellan. “It’s a triple threat for someone trying to sustain a recovery.”

Also, many people feel lonely and depressed around the holidays, often more than at other times of the year, Dr. McLellan said. Holiday reunions of family and friends often bring the joys of love and companionship, but can also create stress and tension for some people.

“Those can be triggers to slide back into substance abusing behavior,” Dr. McLellan said.

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