The holiday season is upon us, and with it nearly every emotion: stress, euphoria, hope, depression… The rollercoaster ride of sensations is universal; however, these ups and downs significantly impact those who face substance use issues.
Addiction treatment providers cannot look at the holidays one-dimensionally as a time of stress and despair. The holiday season offers connection points around both the cozy feel-good moments and the “why do I feel so hopeless?” moments.
By understanding how holiday needs and emotions fluctuate, treatment providers can increase their relevance and visibility amongst their target audience to be top-of-mind when the low moments hit and treatment becomes an urgent need.
Let’s take a look at some of the data surrounding holiday emotions and what treatment marketers can do to be an ally throughout the season.
When we explore Google search trends related to “anxiety,” “depression,” and “stress” it appears that these emotions begin to decline leading up to the holidays. From the chart above, we can see that on the exact dates of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day, the search rates for anxiety, stress, and depression are at the lowest troughs.
What does this mean? Contrary to popular belief, the days leading up to, and the day-of a holiday, most people are in a state of hopefulness and general euphoria. It’s the days following a holiday that searches related to stress, depression, and anxiety increase.
For those with substance use issues, increased anxiety and feelings of hopelessness can lead to relapse. It’s during these low moments that individuals are more likely to reach out for help. In fact, we were able to confirm such findings with our own website data. We found that website traffic and helpline calls to our flagship site, Rehabs.com, increased dramatically the days following all major holidays.
So what does all of this mean in terms of actually connecting with individuals who need help after the holidays? Below are three practical tips.
1. Improve your visibility throughout the entire holiday season
The winter holiday season in general is a great time to connect with your community and boost your presence locally. The season is all about altruism and giving-back, and people are looking for ways to connect with one-another in meaningful ways.
By involving yourself in community happenings or hosting your own event, you’ll boost your visibility so you can be top-of-mind when someone seeks help. We’ve written about the value of “doo-goodism” in previous posts, and you can find some great ideas here.
2. Promote “mid-funnel” materials the days after a holiday
The days following a holiday, many people are looking online for treatment options after substance use becomes a buffer for their mounting levels of anxiety or hopelessness. Make sure decision-making materials are front-and-center on your social media pages, your website homepage, and are the featured message of any paid advertising efforts.
We’ve written about the top five things consumers look for when making a treatment decision in a previous post. You can find some great insights here to help inform your messaging strategy and featured materials.
3. Ensure your call center is well-equipped the days after a holiday
This is probably the most important part of the equation. Make sure you have enough staff on hand to handle the influx of callers, and that you have a solid plan in place for ethical referrals should someone not be a good fit for your facility.