ARC offers advice to support loved ones battling substance abuse during holidays

Holiday joy often sparks pressures of drug use, addiction

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Thanksgiving kicks off a six-week celebration of the holidays filled with family, joy, shopping and many other traditional activities.

But for more than people often like to realize or admit, it’s also a time filled with pressure, angst, social anxiety, financial issues and other challenges. Those often manifest themselves in a particularly difficult time for individuals with substance use disorders and those in recovery.

Addiction Recovery Care is offering advice on how to best support the people in your life who may be struggling with substance use.

As part of this educational effort, the organization held its first Family Forum of the season on Tuesday evening. During the one-hour webinar, participants had the opportunity to hear directly from ARC leadership.

“There are few diseases more destructive for a family than addiction,” said Pat Fogarty, ARC’s senior vice president of operations who led Tuesday’s Family Forum.

Fogarty, who is in recovery himself, encouraged family members to enable their loved one’s recovery, rather than their addiction.

“Professional help is everywhere today. The recovery industry has grown significantly over the last several years, and there are a wide array of people who can help,” said Fogarty. “Family members also have to take care of themselves. In many cases, the anxiety that comes with loving an individual with a substance use disorder can make you just as sick as your loved one. You need your own support system to help you through this process, just as your loved one needs their own support system.”

For family members of individuals who have entered treatment, Fogarty recommended becoming educated and informed on the individual’s treatment plan and their goals. He also advised against picking up loved ones from treatment before they’ve completed the process, as this can be detrimental to their short- and long-term success.

“Nationwide, the vast majority of people who leave treatment against medical advice are doing so very early in the process—long before treatment can make an impact,” said Fogarty. “No matter what a person has struggled with or been through, there is so much opportunity and potential for them in recovery, but we need to allow that process to happen.”

Last week, new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated a staggering 54-percent increase in Kentucky drug overdose deaths between April 2020 and April 2021 compared to the previous 12-month period. More than 100,000 people nationwide lost their lives to drug overdose deaths during that time.

“We cannot forget that there are real people behind these statistics,” said Erin Fogarty, director of external communications for ARC. “These are our sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles and neighbors and friends. Taking the time to share some grace and love with someone who’s struggling this holiday season can truly make a difference.”

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