New Jersey Department of Health

PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:

Christopher Rinn
Acting Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

Holidays challenge people with substance abuse disorders

DOH suggests coping strategies and tips for loved ones

As another holiday season unfolds, the Christie administration suggests coping strategies to help support people who are battling substance use disorders during an especially challenging period.

While the weeks ahead are typically marked by celebration and good cheer, the expectations, festivities and general pressures of the holiday season – as well as the increased presence of alcohol - can create more anxiety and difficulties for many people.

“The holidays can be a fun, joyful time, but they also can be very stressful for everyone, especially for people who are fighting addiction,” said Acting Health Commissioner Christopher Rinn. “But there are proven methods that help people cope so they can enjoy themselves while sustaining recovery.”

People with alcoholism or substance abuse disorders should plan ahead for the holiday party season so they can apply strategies that keep them from engaging in harmful behavior.

“The many social and professional gatherings scheduled during the season can increase the pressure and test behaviors,” Rinn added.

Helpful hints and coping strategies for people battling addictions include:

  • Staying in contact with close friends and family. Having positive, supportive people in your life can evoke a sense of hope and can help sort things out.
  • Setting limits. If you are feeling vulnerable (overwhelmed, angry, tired, sad, etc.), go to an event late and leave early.
  • Setting boundaries. Stay away from those people, places and things that bring you harm. Just because everyone else is drinking doesn't mean you have to drink.
  • Being conscious of media messages that depict alcohol as relaxing and fun. Be aware that alcohol is a depressant drug.
  • Mixing alcohol with prescription medication. Medicine can increase the effect of alcohol. Instead of having one drink, your body may react like it has had twice as many.

If you or someone you know need addiction services, please contact 1-844-ReachNJ (1-844-732-2465) or the Interim Managing Entity hotline at 1-844-276-2777.

As part of Governor Christie’s efforts to integrate primary and behavioral health care, the Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) was transferred on Oct. 1 to the Department of Health from the Department of Human Services.

In addition to launching the treatment referral and authorization hotlines, the Governor also has expanded Drug Court, implemented and expanded the Recovery Coaches program and naloxone treatment, and increased overall spending for substance abuse prevention and treatment.

In support of those in recovery and their families, the Governor will hold his 2nd Annual Candlelight Vigil in Trenton at 5 p.m. on Dec. 6. Last year’s vigil on the State House steps was successful in bringing together several hundred members of the recovery community and its many supporters.

For more prevention, treatment and recovery resources, visit

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