NEW ORLEANS -- Thanksgiving can be seen as the start of great times with family and friends, but that’s not the case for everyone.

For many people, the holiday season is the hardest time of the year. Kevin Gardere says the opioid crisis doesn’t take a break at Thanksgiving and can actually be the worst time of the year for former addicts to relapse. He knows this from first-hand experience.

“This could be a huge trigger … The shame and guilt of ‘I should be with my family, If I was doing the right thing I would be with my family,’” Gardere said. “In the recovering community we call hurricane season the time from Thanksgiving to the end of Mardi Gras.”

Gardere is now the Executive Director of Development at Bridge House Grace House, a treatment facility that helps people overcome their addiction.

Right now, the country is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic. President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics more than 64,000 people died last year because of drug overdoses. That's a number Gardere is working hard to drive down -- especially during the holidays.

“Just know it could be a difficult time for them and they may need to leave the get together to maintain their sobriety,” he said. “Know that you can't do it alone and you really don't have to.”