BUTTE, Mont. — For some, the holidays are seen as a time of joy, but that's not the case for everyone.
A chemical dependency and mental health clinic in Butte told us they see a lot of substance use during the holidays.
Camille Erickson, a licensed addiction counselor with Alpenglow Clinic, said they see more patients who struggle with their addictions once the holidays start to come around.
In Montana, this is a big concern, especially as fentanyl-related fatalities increase.
In 2020, 41 Montanans died, according to the Montana Department of Justice’s state crime lab.
As of May 2021, 22 deaths from fentanyl have been reported.
From Jan. 1 through June 30, Montana's Emergency Medical Services responded to 381 non-fatal opioid overdoses -- up 41% from last year.
"Last year, there was kind of that shutdown with COVID," said Erickson. "A lot of things were kind of lessened. But this year, I think that may have had an increase effect.”
A report from National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that people are more likely to drink at higher levels during the holidays.
The Centers for Disease Control puts Montana on the high end for alcohol poisonings.
Montana saw $163,873,622 in gross liquor sales during 2020, with some of the highest amounts of alcohol being shipped in December.
An article by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration noted that the holidays can be a trigger of trauma for those struggling with addictions.
"There is pressure to conform to particular social and familial expectations, increased presence of alcohol and more interactions with family and friends," according to the article.
Erickson confirmed that this is what they have noticed with some of their patients.
“A lot of our clients have been kind of discarded by their families, from their youth. So that kind of increases (dependence)," explained Erickson. "Then, of course, the typical things along with the lines of, you know, the holidays, parties and that type of thing.”
With the rising numbers in both drug and alcohol use across the state, experts worry what the 2021 holiday season might bring.