SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Festive lights and cheerful music point to us celebrating “the most wonderful time of the year,” but that isn’t the case for those who struggle with addiction or their mental health.

“Television, movies, they all make up the perfect families during Christmas and the holidays. And most of it, it’s never like that,” said Dr. Nicholas Goeders, Executive Director of the Louisiana Addiction Research Center at LSU Health Shreveport. “So we’re trying to live up to what we’ve seen in movies, in what we’ve seen on the TV, and it just doesn’t happen. Nobody can live up to that ideal.”

So why do so many suffer during the holiday season specifically?

“A lot of it has to do with the stress of it all — we’re supposed to be happy, we’re supposed to be spending time with our families, we’re supposed to be buying gifts and all kinds of expectations, and you’re not going to be able to live up to those expectations,” Goeders said. “And so that can put a lot of stress on people. My research has involved how stress can increase alcohol and the use of other substances. And that’s just why it’s harder during the holidays.”

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64% of people with mental health problems report that the holidays make their conditions worse. There’s a wide range of factors, such as finances, interacting with certain family members, growing to-do lists, and unrealistic expectations.

Some may have burned bridges with their immediate family and feel alone during a time of gathering. But there are local resources to help uplift you.

“I’m part of a Celebrate Recovery group at Westview Christian Church. We try to make them feel at home to feel like there is a place where they’re accepted, and they can feel the love that they may not be getting because they’ve burned so many bridges,” Goeders said. “Because that’s what often happens with substance use disorder, people resort to lying and stealing and whatever it is, to get what it is they want — when what they really want is the love from their families, but they’re so caught up in their disorder that they’ve alienated themselves.”

Celebrate Recovery has five locations in the Shreveport-Bossier City area, where you can meet with others during a variety of different times and days.

“You don’t have to be a drug user. You could be someone who has gone through dealing with either a parent or a brother or what have you. And you know, you’ve got some pain too,” Goeders said. “People need to realize that there’s so many of us that have gone through this. At Celebrate Recovery, anonymity and confidentiality are absolutely required. When you’re around others that maybe have gone through something very similar, you’ll find out there are people going through the same things that you are and it helps you feel you’re not all alone.”