Here's a Tip: Don't Invite Your Addicted Relative to Spend the Holidays

Call it, the Christmas spirit.

Around the holidays, many families take in a loved one who suffers from substance abuse and addiction.  This happens so often, the Center for Health Care Services sees a decline in services rendered, starting in November.  

But the Center's Brian Clark says families that do this may be doing more harm than good.

"A lot of family members think it's a choice. They don’t realize the addiction that's associated."

Looking at the numbers from 2014 through today, he says they see a decrease of between ten and 20-percent in services around the holiday.  That's a lot of families taking in a member who suffers from addiction.

But Clark says, by taking them in and giving them food and shelter, they're denying them professional counseling that could target the root cause of the addiction.

"No disrespect to the power of family, but if you have an alcoholic, that's a disease," he says.  The same goes for narcotics as well.

And the numbers at the Center show that harboring an addict over the holidays doesn't help.  

He says, in January, they see a spike in people who quickly fall off the wagon, once the good will ends.

"Family provides them a fresh reality. And then in January, that's when they're back to their homes or the streets."

He suggests that these well-intentioned families, instead, use the holidays to talk to loved ones about treatment.  He says it's worse not to bring up the subject than keep quiet around the holidays.

"Have you thought about change?" he suggests families ask.

He says if families got their loved ones help for substance abuse instead of taking them in, it would make a huge difference in the city's battle against drug addiction.

IMAGE: GETTY

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