Mental Health and Substance Use During the Holidays: Harm Reduction Tips

ATLANTA, G.A., December 30, 2023 — As we approach the year’s end, we must acknowledge the unique challenges the holiday season brings to many people. This time can be exhausting, stressful, and even triggering, especially for those with a relationship with substances. StopHIVATL provides support, resources, and harm-reduction strategies to help you navigate this season with care and consideration.

Understanding the Challenges

The holiday season, while joyous for many, can bring heightened stress and emotional strain. Loneliness, family dynamics, financial pressures, and societal expectations may contribute to mental health challenges and substance use. It’s crucial to recognize and address these stressors with understanding and empathy.

Promoting Mental Health

Prioritize self-care through activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Identify stressors and employ effective stress management strategies, such as deep breathing, mindfulness, and adequate sleep.

Harm Reduction Strategies

For those choosing to use substances during the holidays, StopHIVATL emphasizes harm reduction principles to ensure the safety of our communities:

  • Safer Use: Be aware of dosage and consumption methods to reduce risks. Empower yourself and others to make informed decisions about substance use.
  • Test for Fentanyl: Fentanyl test strips can help users make informed decisions and potentially prevent overdoses. 
  • Start Low, Go Slow: When trying a new substance, start with a small amount to manage its effects better.
  • Don’t Use Alone: Always have someone around when using drugs to monitor and prevent accidents. If alone, consider the Never Use Alone Hotline.
  • Carry Naloxone: Access free naloxone at various locations or through the state’s mail-to-order program. Georgia residents can order fentanyl test strips at
  • Have the Right Tools: Obtain safer injection supplies, overdose prevention tools, and sexual health resources at SafeWorks (186 Sunset Blvd NW, Atlanta).

Substance Use and Mental Health Connection

Recognizing the intricate link between substance use and mental health is crucial. Here’s a brief overview:

  • Symptoms Triggered: Certain substances can worsen mental health symptoms in individuals with addiction.
  • Self-Medication: The use of substances is a common form of self-medication among individuals with mental health conditions.
  • Shared Causes: Underlying factors like changes in brain composition and genetic vulnerabilities contribute to both substance use and mental health conditions.

StopHIVATL is here for support, information, and resources. Let’s make this season one of understanding, compassion, and self-care. Join us in fostering a stigma-free environment. Non-judgmental and inclusive support is vital for those navigating mental health and substance use challenges.

About StopHIVATL: StopHIVATL promotes harm reduction, sexual health, sex positivity, and health engagement. We provide inclusive, zero-judgment information and resources on sexual health, drug user safety, Mpox, community events, and more. The testing, prevention (PrEP), and treatment resources that StopHIVATL provides are confidential, secure, and accessible to anyone residing in Fulton, Gwinnett, DeKalb, and Cobb Counties.

Want to learn more about StopHIVATL’s mission and services? Visit