PORTLAND, Ore. — Everywhere we look this time of year, there are reminders that we are supposed to be happy. But for people struggling with addiction, the holidays can be tough.
"I think it's because a lot of people in my shoes, a lot of addicts, tend to stray away from their families or kind of burn those bridges," said Joshua Geer, who's recovering. "To be hopeless and have nowhere to go, and to see other people happy and stuff really takes a toll."
Geer's addiction started with pills as a kid and lasted for years.
"It just kind of spiraled out of control these last couple years when I finally got into the depths of it, ended up homeless, jobless and really just kind a let the drug take over my life," said Geer.
The addiction nearly ended his life three months ago, when he was hospitalized with heart problems. That's when decided to make a change. He got help through an addiction clinic called Ideal Option. They primarily manage alcohol and opioid addiction with medications but also refer patients to counseling and psychosocial services.
Dr. Brian Dawson, the clinic's senior medical director, says they've seen a steady increase with substance abuse, and this time of year is especially hard.
"Particularly around the holidays, the stress, COVID and the isolation that people are feeling, the rise in addiction, the rise in substance use is causing a lot of problems for people," he said.
Dr. Dawson said it's crucial to stay connected. Whether it's volunteering, being with friends or reaching out for help, the connection is key.
Geer said he's found that advice works for him.
"I had to go to meetings, on top of going to the clinic, and I had to build a group of sober friends to help me," he said. "I talk to both nurses at the clinic frequently as well."
He just celebrated 90 days of sobriety on Christmas Eve, and after 10 years of fighting his addiction he said he is ready to start living again.
Mental health resources for Oregon, SW Washington:
- Oregon Health Authority addiction and Mental Health Services
- Oregon 211: Free 24-7 referral and information help line
- Apply for Medicaid
- NAMI Oregon: NAMI Oregon offers free online support groups and classes for individuals, parents/caregivers, and families affected by mental health disorders through its 15 chapters across Oregon and offers a resource and navigation Help line weekdays from 9 am to 5 pm. 503-230-8009, 800-343-6264
- NAMI Southwest Washington: (Clark County and neighboring counties) offers online support groups, classes and navigation services for individuals and families affected by behavioral health disorders. 360-695-2823
- COVID-19 Mental Health Resource Hub: More on individual wellness and links to other service organizations
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-8255: 24/7 crisis intervention for individuals at risk of self-harm and/or families and friends with a loved one who they believe is at risk
- Disaster Distress Helpline, 800-985-5990, or text TalkWithUs to 66746: Provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline, 800-799-7233 and TTY 800-787-3224
- Washington State 24-hour Crisis Line, 866-427-4747
- Oregon David Romprey Warm Line, 800-698-2392: Peer support help for individuals living with mental health disorders
- Reach Out Oregon Warm Line, 833-732-2467: Support for parents/caregivers raising children with behavioral health challenges. Weekdays (except holidays) from 12-7 p.m.
- Other Oregon-based warm lines for seniors, teens, and others
- Washington State Warm Line, 877-500-WARM: A peer support help line for people living with emotional and mental health challenges.
- CVAB Warm Line (Clark County), 360-903-2853, 4 p.m. until midnight: Peer support help for individuals living with mental health disorders
- A 10-minute guided imagery for reducing stress/anxiety in the moment
- A resource for creating a gratitude journal
- A podcast by Brene’ Brown on over/under functioning during anxious times
- Centers for Disease Control
- Aspire App for your phone, Download the app (Apple or Google Play)
Watch: The Good Stuff