Dealing with Addictions Around Thanksgiving & the Holidays

Addictions are never easy to deal with, but they become even more challenging during the holidays. Holidays bring with them tremendous pressures, sometimes good and sometimes bad.

But the one thing that’s true for most people is that the holidays always make the stress much worse, and that increased stress can make it hard for you to hold fast to your goals and your recovery plan.

Despite the fact that the holidays add enough stress to make many people consider alcohol or drugs just to wind down, it’s possible to deal with the stressors and difficulties. You just need to remember a few key points to help you cope.

  • Identify your stressors and your inner struggles.Your first step should be to identify your stressors. Alcohol and drug abuse is common among individuals who struggle with depression or tension. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that almost 2.1 million people had to visit hospital emergency departments because of these activities.Turning to alcohol or drugs should not be your first choice. But you won’t know how to stop it until you realize what is stressing you out. Take note of the times when you’re stressed. If you know that the holidays make you depressed because you are single or because you lost a loved one, then avoid things that remind you of that situation.

    Pinpointing inner struggles can be more challenging than identifying your stressors. Look to your behavioral patterns. Remember that you may have to confront some difficult memories and situations, particularly if part of your substance abuse stems from past physical abuse.

  • Remember willpower is finite.In a surprising body of research, the APA reports (PDF) that willpower is actually a finite resource. It’s similar to a muscle that you can wear out. This means that during the holidays, when you have so many increased temptations and decisions, you need to simplify your decision-making. Have someone else help you handle the problems. Even consider setting up simple tasks in advance such as choosing a healthy breakfast the night before.In remembering the finiteness of your own willpower, you should also avoid situations where your addiction may be present. The holidays are especially difficult for recovering alcoholics, as many holiday parties often include all kinds of alcoholic beverages and specials. Don’t go to those parties if you can help it. And if you know that drugs are going to be present, absolutely don’t go. Cops crack down even harder during the holiday season because they know the tendencies.
  • Don’t be ashamed to talk to someone.One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to assume you can handle it on your own. Even if you have managed your addiction beautifully throughout most of the year, the holiday season brings up a number of challenges that you won’t be prepared to handle. More important, having to deal with these things on your own makes it much harder to keep yourself strong.Friends and family can be helpful during this time, but remember that they aren’t necessarily equipped for this. They could unintentionally enable you, or they might send you into a guilt spiral, which will make your breaking down even more likely. It’s possible for people to have multiple symptoms as well as multiple underlying causes, commonly known as dual diagnosis. All of these must be identified and treated to make sure that the relief provided is as complete as possible. Visiting with a professional counselor or enrolling in an addiction program in can help you get an objective perspective, tailored advice, and a stronger support network.
  • Don’t make New Year’s your time to end the battle.The new year helps make the holidays so stressful. The beginning of another year is the most common time for people to try to kick an addiction. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ran a special to promote quitting smoking in 2013.

There’s nothing wrong with making an addiction-free lifestyle your goal, but you shouldn’t make it a pressure point. Recovering from an addiction can take quite some time, and increasing the stress on yourself only makes it more likely that you will relapse. Instead, remember that the holidays are a time to make good memories. It’s not an excuse to binge on your favorite addiction, and it’s not a time to progress faster.

Dealing with addictions around the holidays can be difficult, but you can make it through. You need to know what makes you struggle. Identify the stressors and the inner struggles.

Your willpower is finite. You only have so much to give, so protect your choices and avoid putting yourself in difficult situations. Needing to talk to someone and getting help is normal. Don’t be afraid to get it.

**Blog from Thank you for the fantastic information to share with our readers! **

WBIR Helps Spread Word on Prescription Drug Abuse

wbirPrescription drug abuse is a problem of epidemic proportions here in the U.S. Overdoses from painkillers like hydrocodone and oxycontin now kill more Americans than motor vehicle crashes. Chances are you have a family member, friend, even acquaintance who is living with an addiction.

In an effort to shed more light on the epidemic facing our communities, all this week WBIR will be sharing stories and providing you with information you can use.

Last night, we heard about the story of a daughter and mother who refused to give in to prescription drug abuse and are now giving back. 

These stories will be in the 5:00 news segment and we hope that you will tune into watch (or DVR).



Sneak peek for our Blog followers, tonight’s story will be focusing around the new law around charging pregnant women who abuse prescription drugs illegally. WBIR will go deeper into what the babies with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) go through after birth and what we are doing locally to help this problem.

Thank you WBIR for all the work you put into this series!

Marijuana: Take it to the polls (1)Initiatives are on the ballot in Oregon and Alaska today, that would legalize recreational marijuana, are too close to call, according to NBC News. If the states approve the measures, they will join Colorado and Washington state, where recreational marijuana is already legal.

In addition, residents of Washington, D.C. will vote on a measure allowing adults 21 and over to possess up to two ounces of marijuana, and grow up to six plants in their homes. The measure is expected to pass. In Florida, voters are expected to defeat a medical marijuana measure. In 2016 at least six more states are expected to vote on legalizing recreational marijuana, the article notes.

TIME released an article giving the breakdown of the handful of states and cities that will vote to loosen restrictions on the drug, setting the stage for bigger battles in 2016.

The Metropolitan Drug Commission does not support the legalization or use of medical or recreational marijuana.

The term “medical marijuana” is generally used to refer to the whole unprocessed marijuana plant or its crude extracts, which are not recognized or approved as medicine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

Leading from Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

Mother wants ‘Breaking Bad’ figures removed from Toys R Us

Mom takes on Toys ‘R Us for selling ‘Breaking Bad’ toys

The award-winning show “Breaking Bad” was popular with critics and fans, however one Florida mother is not to pleased.

Susan Schrivjer of Ft. Myers, Fla., is demanding that Toys R Us stops selling “Breaking Bad” figures that come with perceived drug paraphernalia.

Schrivjer posted a petition on — which currently has more than 6,000 signatures — in an effort to get others to join her cause.

“Breaking Bad,” a popular and critically praised show on the AMC cable network, is about a terminally ill high school chemistry teacher, Walter White, who goes into business with a former student to make and sell crystal meth for money to support his family after he dies of cancer.

The action figures come with drug paraphernalia, according to the Toys “R” Us website.  Walter White comes with a bag of “blue crystals” which fans will know is meth.

Jesse Pinkman, Aaron Paul’s character, comes with a gas mask and also a tray of the “blue crystals.”

Schrivjer stated in an interview, “While the show may be compelling viewing for adults, its violent content and celebration of the drug trade make this collection unsuitable to be sold alongside Barbie dolls and Disney characters.”

When asked if Toys ‘R Us would remove the dolls, U.S. spokesperson Kathleen Waugh told Global News: “We carry a variety of fictional character action figures, including those for our collector customers.  The products are carried in very limited quantities in the adult action figure area of our stores.”

If you would like these action figures taken off shelves, please sign Schrivjer’s petition.


Deb_Headshot90 percent oral opiates in the world are consumed in America. There’s enough Vicodin out now to give every single person in this country a pill every four hours for one month.

CBS News is exploring the challenges of addiction and recovery, and showing solidarity with the millions of people who are struggling with these issues.

In this video, Dr. Drew Pinsky, a board-certified internist, addiction medicine specialist and TV host widely known as Dr. Drew, is urging people to change the way they view addiction. He spoke with CBS News about the need to “let go of this moralizing model about substances.”

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) offers a concise definition of addiction: “Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.”

Dr. Drew explains that all the brain’s systems that are driven or motivated by survival, even such basic instincts as hunger and thirst, can be overtaken by the disease, compelling the addict to prioritize using drugs and alcohol above all else.

Although this is a social media campaign launched by CBS, I challenge you to give up your “drug of choice” for #14days.

MDC Community Champions Luncheon Nominations

Community Champion Awards- ThumbnailIt’s time for nominations for the 2nd annual MDC Community Champions Luncheon! Do you know someone who is making Knoxville a safer and healthier place to live? Nominate them for an award. MDC will recognize community leaders in the following categories:

Coalition Member of the Year

This award will be given to a coalition member who exhibited commitment to the organization through meeting participation, committee leadership and project implementation.

Innovations in Substance Abuse Prevention Award

This award will be given to an individual who implemented and/or oversaw a groundbreaking prevention project.

Commitment to Service Award

This award will honor a person who is dedicated to giving back to the community, whether through their profession or volunteerism.

Media Advocacy Award

This award is dedicated to the local media professional that brought great awareness to and generated community conversation around substance abuse.

Youth Leadership Award

This award will be given to a “rising star” in the area of substance abuse prevention. The nominee should be a youth or teen trailblazer under 21.

Recovery Services Award

This award will be presented to a treatment professional that has expanded services and/or reduced stigma facing people with addictions.

Celebrate Recovery Award

This award will be presented to a person who has gone through recovery and has put forth extreme effort in making a positive change through their journey.

Completed nomination forms must be received at the MDC office no later than Friday, October 24 at 5 PM. If you are interested in filling out a form, please email Aly Taylor at gro.g1417079245urdor1417079245tem@r1417079245olyat1417079245a1417079245 or visit our online application.



Hi. My name is Betsy Tant. My teenage nephew Henry died from an opiate overdose.henry-in-red

He was a beautiful boy who loved and was loved by so many. Henry was incredibly intelligent. He loved to read and discuss history and philosophy. He was kind and compassionate and was often overwhelmed by the cruelty in the world. He was a talented guitarist and found solace in his music. Henry adored his family and was a loyal friend and took people at their word. When he was deep in his addiction and very vulnerable, he ended up trusting the wrong people. They said that they would help him get clean and reclaim his life. Instead they sucked him into their world of dealing.

Within a week of meeting them Henry ended up at their trailer with a head injury. Instead of calling for help they gave him more and more drugs until he was unconscious. They put him in a bedroom and left him there unconscious and choking on his own vomit. Hours later they realized that he was going to die and instead of calling an ambulance they called the last person Henry had called and told her to come get him. She told them to call an ambulance and she called the police. It was too late to give him naloxone and reverse the effects of the drugs. The damage to his brain from the time he was in their home dying was too extensive. These people were afraid of getting in trouble so instead they let him lay there dying. If they had just called for help in the beginning he could have been saved.

He died in his parents’ arms.

If they had just called for help, he might be in college now. If they had just called for help, Henry might be happy and healthy and helping others find their way to recovery. If they had just called for help, his brother and sisters, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents would not spend each day of the rest of their life with a piece of their heart missing.

Many people ask me if saving people from overdose makes any real difference. The answer is yes. Most people in active addiction are not afraid of overdosing but there is data that tells us that surviving an overdose has an impact. At least a quarter of overdose survivors seek treatment within 30 days. There are many who overdose many times before finally starting a life in recovery. Many of these people end up on the front lines, teaching overdose prevention education.

Most people are not alone when they overdose. This means that a majority of overdose deaths could have been prevented if someone had just gotten naloxone in their system within 2-3 hours. Naloxone is a miracle drug. Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have passed laws making it legal for people get and administer naloxone. Many of those states also have Good Samaritan laws giving immunity from possession charges to people who call for help. Most ambulances have naloxone ready to use if given the chance.

So why are overdose death rates still so high? It’s simple- very few people know about naloxone. Despite the new laws making it legal to access there is very little being done to educate the public and doctors about them.

Next month I will be heading to a conference in Baltimore where we will review the history and evidence for programs to distribute naloxone to people who use drugs and other community members, discuss innovative ways for ensuring wide access to the medication and review best practice in and naloxone access laws. Participants will have the opportunity to brainstorm things they can do to increase access to naloxone in their area – whether or not their state has permissive laws. I’m going to bring that information back to Tennessee and start doing what I can to save more lives.

“Where there’s life there’s hope.”  -Cicero

To learn more on how to support Henry’s Fund please visit their website.

Be a Parent. Not a Peer.

Deb_HeadshotToday, an Athens man was arrested after officials said he forced his 15-year-old son to drink alcohol until he passed out. Several people at the home said the teen’s father, 35-year-old Mark Allen Hughes, forced his son to play a drinking game with him while watching the Tennessee football game on Saturday. Witnesses told police that Hughes made his son play the game after he caught the 15-year-old drinking. Some of the witnesses then left the home, but when they came back, the teen lying unresponsive on the kitchen floor.This father has been charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect as well as contributing to the delinquency of a child.

More information on this story

I think this incident should bring light to anyone over the age of 21 who has ever or even thought about supplying alcohol to a minor.

The legal drinking age was not just chosen at random. Research indicates that the human brain continues to develop into a person’s early twenties and that exposure of the developing brain to alcohol may have long-lasting effects on intellectual capabilities.

While many parents may think that allowing their teens and their teens’ friends to drink at home under adult supervision keeps kids safe and leads to healthier attitudes about drinking, the truth is that there are serious negative consequences for both parents and teens.

The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids has broken down the underage drinking Myths.

Myth: Some parents think that providing alcohol to teens at home decreases the risk for continued drinking as teens get older, and subsequent drinking problems later in life. 

Truth: The opposite is true – parents should be aware that supplying alcohol to minors actually increases, rather than decreases the risk for continued drinking in the teenage years and leads to subsequent problem drinking later in life.

Myth: Young people from European cultures whose parents give them alcohol at an early age learn to drink more responsibly than their American counterparts. 

Truth: A greater percentage of European youth report drinking regularly (in the past 30 days) versus American youth, and for a majority of European countries, a greater percentage of young people report having been intoxicated before the age of 13 than is the case in the U.S. The World Health Organization cites global longitudinal studies that found the earlier young people start drinking, the more likely they are to experience alcohol-related injury and alcohol dependence later in life.

Myth: Some parents believe that being ‘too strict’ about adolescent drinking during high school will cause teens to drink more when they first leave the home and do not have as much parental oversight. 

 Truth: New research from The Partnership Attitude Tracking Study (PATS) reveals that teens who perceive their parents to be more permissive about alcohol use are MORE likely to abuse alcohol and to use other drugs.[4]

Myth: Parents who serve alcohol to teenagers at home are under no legal jeopardy. 

Truth: A majority of states have civil and or criminal penalties for adults who serve alcohol to underage kids at home.

So the next time someone you know or yourself, even, has the thought of serving to minors, please think twice. It could cost the both of you.

Be a Parent. Not a Peer. 

DEA Will Allow Unused Narcotic Painkillers to be Returned to Pharmacies

Deb_HeadshotThe Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced Monday it will allow unused narcotic painkillers such as OxyContin to be returned to pharmacies. Until now, pharmacies were not allowed to accept unused opioid painkillers. The Controlled Substances Act required patients to dispose of the drugs themselves or give them to law enforcement during twice-yearly national “take-back” events.

Consumers will also be permitted to mail unused prescription medications to an authorized collector, in packages that will be available at pharmacies and locations including senior centers and libraries, The New York Times reports.

The new regulations are designed to curb the prescription drug abuse epidemic, the DEA said.  “These new regulations will expand the public’s options to safely and responsibly dispose of unused or unwanted medications,” DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart said in a news release.  “The new rules will allow for around-the-clock, simple solutions to this ongoing problem. Now everyone can easily play a part in reducing the availability of these potentially dangerous drugs.”

The regulations will take effect in one month, the article notes. In addition to OxyContin, the rule will include stimulants such as Adderall and depressants such as Ativan. The program will be voluntary for pharmacies. The DEA will require locations accepting drugs to permanently destroy them, but will not specify how they do it.

The “take-back” events removed 4.1 million pounds of prescription drugs from circulation in the past four years, according to the DEA. During that time, about 3.9 billion prescriptions were filled. “They only removed an infinitesimal fraction of the reservoir of unused drugs that are out there,” said Dr. Nathaniel Katz of Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, who studies opioid abuse. “It’s like trying to eliminate malaria in Africa by killing a dozen mosquitoes.”

Flushing drugs down the toilet, or throwing out prescriptions in the trash, are discouraged because they could harm the environment.

**Information from Partnership for Drug-Free Kids article***

CVS Stops Selling Tobacco

smallcvsCVS Caremark plans to stop selling tobacco products in all of its stores starting Wednesday — a move health experts hope will be followed by other major drugstore chains.

CVS announced in February that it planned to drop tobacco by Oct. 1 as the sales conflicted with its health care mission. To bolster its image as a health care company, CVS will announce a corporate name change to CVS Health. Retail stores will still be called CVS/Pharmacy.

CVS, which has 7,700 retail locations, is the second-largest drugstore chain in the USA, behind Walgreens. It manages the pharmacy benefits for 65 million members and has 900 walk-in medical clinics.

The Metropolitan Drug Commission would like to thank CVS for their decision to no longer sell tobacco products.

Since the Surgeon General’s warning was first issued on January 11, 1964, Luther L. Terry, M.D., Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service, released the first report of the Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health.

This report was on the basis of more than 7,000 articles relating to smoking and disease already available at that time in the biomedical literature. The Advisory Committee concluded that cigarette smoking is, “A cause of lung cancer and laryngeal cancer in men, a probable cause of lung cancer in women and the most important cause of chronic bronchitis.”

In the 50 years since this original report, science has advanced and we know much more now about the harmful physical effects of tobacco use, including secondhand smoke.

Although we have seen reductions in tobacco use in the past 50 years, we still continue to see young people initiating use at a very young age, with 5 percent of Knox County Middle School students reporting that they smoked a cigarette before age 11 years (2013 Knox County Youth Risk Behavior Survey). Survey results also show that 75 percent of high school students who reported smoking at least one day in the past 30 days are reporting that they are making grades that are mostly C’s, D’s and F’s.

By reducing access to tobacco products, we know that youth usage rates decline. We hope that other health-related businesses will follow the lead of CVS. Everyone would benefit from a having a healthy community.

For anyone that is ready to quit smoking, please call the Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or join the program online at