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The Anxiety Crisis is Coming Home for the Holidays, Warns Caron Treatment Centers

Anxiety, depression and substance use problems have skyrocketed over the past three years. Holiday get-togethers offer opportunity to see first-hand how loved ones are coping.

Wernersville, PA – December 21, 2022 - Caron Treatment Centers, a leading, internationally recognized nonprofit dedicated to addiction and behavioral healthcare treatment, research, prevention and addiction medicine education, today urged families to take mental wellness and substance use seriously during the holiday season by familiarizing themselves with signs of anxiety, depression and substance use disorder.

As some families gather for the first time in several years, holiday get-togethers continue to offer an opportunity for visibility and greater awareness about how loved ones are coping with the often disabling anxiety, uncertainty and loneliness left in the wake of the pandemic.

“Three years of stress and hypervigilance have taken a toll on everyone’s mental health. Anxiety, depression, suicide, and substance use disorders (SUD) have increased dramatically. It’s safe to say that the nationwide mental health crisis will be coming home for the holidays,” said David Rotenberg, Chief Clinical Officer for Caron Treatment Centers “Chances are someone at your holiday table is not coping well—whether with substance misuse or from a mental health perspective. This holiday season, it’s important everyone is on the lookout for signs of difficulty in our loved ones.”

“Problem drinking has increased since the beginning of 2020, legal marijuana has become more widely available and prescriptions for anxiety and depression have gone up. Deaths from alcohol use, drug overdoses and suicide have also skyrocketed,” continued Rotenberg. “The patients entering treatment at Caron are now more clinically compromised with greater co-morbidities, more deeply mired in their SUD and co-occurring mental illnesses than ever. As a country, we are facing the culmination of three years of isolation, overmedication and oversaturation. We all need to be hypervigilant in paying attention to the state of our families and loved ones this season.”

According to the CDC, the number of people reporting recent feelings of anxiety has tripled since the beginning of 2020. Studies show that one in four men (26.4%) and two in five women (40.4%) will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. Alcohol and drug dependency is often co-occurring with mental health issues. A report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed that, in the first year of the pandemic, alcohol-related deaths increased by 25.5%, with deaths among 35-to-44 year-olds rising by almost 40%.

Red Flags to Watch For

Anxiety and depression are much more common than most people think, especially since the start of the pandemic. In August 2022, more than 32% of U.S. adults reported having symptoms of anxiety or depression in the last two weeks. Red flags to be alert for include:

  • Confusion and inability to concentrate
  • Inability to make decisions, becoming overly stressed about small issues
  • Excessive fears or worries
  • Mood changes
  • Withdrawal from social connections
  • Tiredness, sleepiness
  • Changes in work performance
  • Increase in alcohol consumption or use of substances and medications

Red flags for potential alcohol and substance use disorder include:

  • Deterioration of physical appearance or personal grooming habits
  • Tremors, slurred speech or impaired coordination
  • Engaging in secretive or suspicious behaviors
  • Legal trouble, or trouble at school or work
  • Sudden change in friends, hangouts or hobbies
  • Unexplained financial problems, borrowing or stealing money
  • Sudden mood swings or increased irritability
  • Attempts to limit drinking are unsuccessful
  • Becoming anxious or stressed if a social gathering does not include alcohol
  • Hyperfocus on the next drink
  • Continuing to drink regardless of negative consequences
  • Drinking frequently or in excess
  • Blackouts when drinking
  • Making excuses to continue to drink

“It’s time to stop avoiding the mental health and substance use crisis,” concluded Rotenberg. “A panel of national medical experts recommended in September that all adults under age 65 be screened for anxiety during routine medical visits, at Caron we also believe that substance use should also be part of that conversation. Likewise, families should be mindful that their family members may be struggling. Don’t ignore a problem. Avoidance in any situation is a short-term solution that has very long-term consequences ”

Caron, which has long handled co-occurring mental health issues as an important part of addiction treatment, recently expanded in Florida with the introduction of a program focused specifically and solely on mental health. More than ever, people are struggling with emotional pain, overwhelming stress and loss of social connection. Caron’s new residential Mental Health Program is designed to address the much-needed care gap for individuals who can live independently but require personalized attention with 24/7 support as they engage in an integrated therapeutic program that addresses their mental, spiritual and physical health.

Caron Treatment Centers

Caron Treatment Centers is an internationally recognized nonprofit dedicated to addiction and behavioral healthcare treatment, research, prevention, and addiction medicine education. Headquartered in Wernersville, Pennsylvania, our mission is Recovery for Life. For more than 65 years, we have helped thousands of individuals struggling with substance use disorder and their families begin to manage this chronic, treatable disease. Caron provides a continuum of care for teens, young adults, women, men, and older adults. Caron’s signature programming provides concierge treatment for executives, healthcare professionals and older adults. In addition to the Pennsylvania campus, Caron provides services in Palm Beach County, Florida, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, and New York City. Caron accepts several major insurance plans and provides financial assistance for those who qualify. For more information, please visit or @CaronTreatment.

Media Contacts:

Kristin Campbell-Salamone, Corporate Director of PR & Communications, Caron Treatment Centers | 215-292-5526

Katie Kennedy, Senior Vice President, Gregory FCA | 610-731-1045

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