Wed. Jul 17th, 2024

For some, the holidays bring at least as much anxiety as joy. And for no one is that more true than the many Canadians dealing with addictions, says the head of a Quebec treatment centre.

Users can find themselves facing isolation or more opportunities to consume at this time of year, said Anne Elizabeth Lapointe, executive director of Maison Jean Lapointe in Montreal.

“There are those who will prefer to spend the holidays at Maison Jean Lapointe, because sometimes the holidays mean a lot of abuse,” she said.

The season’s associations with family and spending often weigh on people whose conditions can fray relationships and leave them low on funds.

“There are some for whom years of consumption have isolated them over time, which means that for many the holiday season is a difficult period,” Lapointe said.

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Even patients leaving treatment with “all the good will” are not immune to a relapse, she said, with parties providing a chance to drink or use and leaving others in the throes of loneliness.

Her 41-year-old halfway house will be hosting about 30 people over the holidays, offering therapy for those living with alcoholism or addiction to substances or gambling, Lapointe said.

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“The phone is really ringing a lot this year,” she said. Typically the wave of calls comes in the new year, after resolutions have been made.

“Usually people don’t necessarily want to spend the holidays at Maison Jean Lapointe. Surprisingly this year we’re quite full, so it’s going to be a busy Christmas.”

For those planning to host recently sober guests — or any guests — offering non-alcoholic drinks that go beyond a glass of water makes for a thoughtful gesture, Lapointe said.

If a visitor turns down a boozy beverage, hosts and friends should not insist, she added. Attendees looking to steer clear of alcohol can also bring their own items, from seltzer to soft drinks.

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