Let's Talk About It - Holiday Season and Chemical Health

Posted by Rebecca Velline on 12/9/2022

I am pleased to introduce our chemical health team and reintroduce our monthly blog, Let’s Talk About It. The chemical health department has had exciting changes this year. Chemical Health Prevention Specialist Joshua VanHeuveln MSW, LGSW, LADC, CPP began with the school district in Sept. 2022. A second Chemical Health Prevention Specialist Rebecca Velline MPNA, LADC joined the chemical health team in Nov. 2022. We are looking forward to providing education and support districtwide for the remainder of the school year.

Now onto the December blog posting!

The holiday season can be a joyous and stressful time of year for all. The holidays can be a trigger for mental health symptoms and increased substance use. Students and families who struggle with substances can have a difficult time during the holidays. 

This time of year can also bring emotional stress, including family conflict, trauma, financial concerns, and loneliness. If we are not prepared to encounter these stressors, we may seek unhealthy coping strategies. These are a few tips that may help us avoid substance use and abuse during the holiday season.

  • Limit triggers for your child – Recognize triggers and then try to limit them (stress, environment, or certain people). Once triggers are identified, take notice of warning signs (thinking patterns and seeking out unhealthy situations).
  • Set boundaries – If you anticipate boundaries being tested during this holiday season, write out specific boundaries allowing everyone to feel supported and comfortable.
  • Create a plan as a family – Skip events that include family, friends, or peers that may encourage drinking or misuse of drugs. This could include bringing an accountability person to holiday events, bringing your own safe foods or drinks that you can enjoy, or creating an exit plan if an unhealthy situation arises.
  • Engage in healthy self-care – Pick up a new, healthy activity this holiday season so you do not revert to old patterns. Being intentional helps to make your self-care a priority.
  • Have a support system – If your child is part of a support group, make the time to engage in more meetings during the holiday times! It is important to build and regularly engage in healthy relationships.

These are tips that are helpful for both our students and families to take care during this time of year. Beginning this conversation can assist in supporting our students during the winter break and holidays. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Anoka-Hennepin Chemical Health Prevention Specialists for more resources: ahschools.us/chemicalhealth.