Magazine article USA TODAY

The Heart Is On-And How

Magazine article USA TODAY

The Heart Is On-And How

Article excerpt

The holiday season often is portrayed as a happy time filled with festive foods and celebratory gatherings--and it is for many. However, for some, the season creates a whirlwind of pressure to send the perfect holiday card, throw the most-memorable parties, and give the best gifts. From client outings to family functions, pressure to perform is wreaking havoc on our lives.

"Whether you can't stop looking at your neighbor's flawless Instagram to your relatives texting last minute wish lists, research shows that technology has ramped up the pressure and created unrealistic expectations of perfection," says David Rotenberg, chief clinical officer at Caron Treatment Centers. "Unfortunately, this is a recipe for disaster, with more people turning to alcohol, marijuana, illegal drugs, or abusing prescription medication to cope and relax."

Polls conducted by Caron over the past decade highlight the reality that turning to substances to blow off steam at holiday parties can have serious repercussions. In one survey, for instance, alcohol was a primary factor in flirtations with coworkers or supervisors, inappropriate text messages, aggressive behavior, and drunk driving. According to Caron's medical specialists, most people retain alcohol in their blood up to three hours after one drink, increasing the risk of dangerous decisions with severe consequences.

Misperceptions about the safety of marijuana has created additional hazards. Marijuana can cause drowsiness and an inability to judge speed and distance--a recipe for disaster behind the wheel. …

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