BEE HEARD: The holidays and alcohol 

Photo Credit: Courtesy Native Connections Program 

The holidays can be a joyous time of the year. It is a time for reflection, gratitude, love, and service. For many, the holidays can also be a stressful and depressing part of the year, leading to increased alcohol related arrests and deaths. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatalities involving alcohol were up 9% in 2020 despite less traveling due to the pandemic (NHTSA, 2021). Data shows that 40% of highway deaths during the holidays are alcohol related (National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2021).  

Many people who end up in jail, the hospital, or even the morgue due to excessive drinking may not fall into the category of “alcoholic.” While alcohol use and sales increase during this time of year, this can also be due to alcohol use coinciding with celebration. Those who may not drink excessively most of the time can in fact indulge too much at a Christmas party, or on New Year’s Eve, and this can lead to poor decision making. In those situations, it is strongly encouraged to plan their drinking and do it in a safe manner. This most of all involves having a safe and sober ride home, or plan to stay where you’re able to sleep it off. However, it is also important for those “sleeping it off” to recognize that it is very common to wake up still impaired or intoxicated if not enough rest has been achieved, leading to possible DUI or a vehicle accident. 

Struggles with mental health, including depression and anxiety, are direct results of increased alcohol consumption during the holiday season (Fort Behavioral Health, 2021). The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that “over 25% of Americans report feeling more depressed during the holiday season” (CDC, as cited in Ancar, 2021, np).  

THE GOOD NEWS: While alcohol consumption increases, recovery from alcoholism increases as well. Attend any recovery meeting hall and the number of attendees is much higher during the holidays. The number of newly sober individuals increases, along with a strong presence of those who became and remained sober during the holiday months.  

For those who are struggling, or know somebody who is struggling, there is help during this holiday season. Please contact the Southern Ute Behavioral Health division if you have any questions or need support: (970) 563-5700. 



Ancar, (2021). How holiday depression and anxiety relate to recovery. December 6, 2021, from anxiety-relate-to-recovery/. 

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2021). Early estimates of motor vehicle traffic  fatalities rate by sub-categories in 2020. Traffic Safety Facts. 

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2021). The truth about holiday spirits. spirits. 


Local Resources 

  • Southern Ute Health Center- Behavioral Health Division, NEW LOCATION AND PHONE NUMBER! 4101 CR 222 Durango, Co 970-563-5700. For local Native Americans. We are here to support mental health, substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery. Please call to schedule an appointment to talk to someone.   
  • Southern Ute- Division of Social Services 116 Capote Drive, Ignacio, CO 970-563-2331 or for local Native Americans needing assistance with child welfare needs and family support.  
  • Southern Ute Police Department- Anonymous Tip Hotline Do you have information about a crime? 
  • Please call (970) 563-4999. This “Tip Line” was designed to allow you the ability to provide law enforcement with information, anonymously, if need be, regarding criminal, drug, or suspicious activity. The “Tip Line” is monitored around the clock by SUPD Investigators, but it DOES NOT replace 9-1-1 or the non-emergency police number (970) 563-4401. 
  • St Ignatius Catholic Church, Pastor Cesar Arras, 14826 CO-172, Ignacio, CO 970-563-4241. 
  • Ignacio Community Church, Pastor Randall Haynes 405 Browning Ave, Ignacio, CO (currently located inside ELHI) 970-759-3633  
  • Second Wind Fund of the Four Corners, believes that every child and youth at risk of suicide should have access to the mental health treatment they need. We match children and youth at risk for suicide with licensed therapists in their communities, 720-962-0706. 
  • Women’s Resource Center, creates personal, social, and professional growth opportunities for all women in La Plata County, 970-247-1242. 


State or National Resources- All are 24/7. 

  • 24/7 Axis Crisis Line – SW Colorado 970-247-5245 or Text 741741 
  • Colorado Crisis Line 844-493-8255 or Text “TALK” to 38255. You’ll immediately be put in contact with a trained counselor, ready to text with you about anything. 
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has both an online chat and a 24/7 phone line at 1-800-273-8255 if you are thinking of suicide or need help for a loved one. 
  • The Trevor Project which seeks to serve LGBT youth, has a 24/7 suicide prevention line at 866-488-7386. 


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