People Use More Drugs in the Summer

You guessed it right – people use more drugs during summer than any other time of the year. But have you ever wondered why that’s the case? Well, according to a post published on the National Drug Institute on Drug Abuse, summer offers more idle time along with social activities like outdoor dance parties and music festivals that increase exposure to drugs. In fact, the post also reveals that most drug problems begin in the summertime.

In 2017 alone, close to 790,000 people tried ecstasy (MDMA/Molly), 800,000 tried LSD, and 3 million tried marijuana for the first time. NIDA funded a study to determine whether this first-time use was related to seasonal changes. Researchers looked at data from the 2011 - 2017 NSDUH, observing about 400,000 people and their first-time use of these illegal drugs.

Participants were asked whether they have used any of the drugs and what month and year they initiated use in the study. Most of them said they tried the drugs during summer than any other time of year. Findings showed that initiation was more likely to happen during summer, accounting for 34% of LSD use, 30% of marijuana and ecstasy use, and 28% of cocaine use. More people started using marijuana, cocaine, LSD, and ecstasy during the summer months.

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Why does drug use increase in summer?

Most people look forward to summer - warm weather, trips to the beach, endless parties, and lots of free time. Teens, in particular, fondly anticipate the summer months because they have no school and are free of responsibilities. Here’s why most of them try out drugs during summer.

More free time

Many young adults find themselves with lots of free time during summer. They have no classwork or projects going on. And even when they’re working, they still have a chance to enjoy summer Fridays and long holiday weekends. With lots of free time in their hands, they are more likely to jump into any activity that will keep them busy – including going to parties (which are all the rage during summer).

Less adult supervision

But with the fun and freedom comes a risk of drug use and addiction. Teens are susceptible to a range of influences, including pop culture, social media, and peers. And with lots of free time during summer and less adult supervision, it’s easy to see why a blend of these factors can influence experimental behavior.

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Social gatherings and parties

House parties, beach parties, music festivals, birthday parties, and so many events are happening, and teens are spoilt for choice. And guess what keeps the party lit? Drugs and alcohol. As we’ve mentioned earlier, teens are vulnerable to lots of things. So they may do things to try to feel good or fit in.

However, these are not always the only reasons teens try out drugs during summer. Some of them have mental health problems that they’re unwilling to address or resolve in some other way. Mental illness and drug use tend to go hand in hand.

Besides, the teen might assume that some drugs are acceptable or even somewhat safe because many other people in the same situations as them are using.

Dangers of using different drugs in summer

Abusing drugs – both prescription and illicit drugs – comes with a range of risks. But using drugs over summer poses even more danger because of the heat. As the temperatures rise during hot, humid summer months, health experts warn of an increased risk for developing heat stroke.

High doses of drugs can cause the body to lose its temperature-regulating abilities, preventing it from cooling down through sweating. This may lead to critical health issues like dehydration and drug-induced fever.

When excessive heat combines with drugs like cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, and meth, the results can be deadly. Drugs and alcohol can mask signs of overheating. People who use drugs or alcohol during summer may not notice the temperatures rising beyond the normal levels.

As a result, the body and brain overheat from drugs, putting them at high risk for stroke and death. According to the Centers for Disease and Prevention, an average of 702 heat death-related deaths occurred in the US annually between 2004 and 2018. Here are drugs that are especially dangerous in summer.

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Cocaine

Cocaine disrupts the body’s natural ability to regulate temperature and simultaneously makes one agitated. So, even as the body temperature rises to dangerous levels, one is driven to constantly move about – pushing the body temperatures to extremes. This can result in fatal overheating, which explains why cocaine deaths spike during the summer months.

Ecstasy

People have assumed that ecstasy is a safe drug for a long time, but this isn’t true. Ecstasy causes lots of extensive and alarming symptoms that can worsen with heat. MDMA is particularly dangerous because it disrupts the body’s ability to regulate temperature. This puts users at risk for heat injury, dehydration, and fatal heatstroke.

Alcohol

Alcohol causes dehydration, and that’s what makes it dangerous during summer. It suppresses the production of water reabsorption hormone, causing more fluid to be lost through urination. Besides, alcohol use can cause vomiting that further reduces body fluids. Consequently, this may lead to sleepiness, sticky mouth, headache, decreased urination, and dizziness that can cause the body not to regulate heat.

Amphetamines

Amphetamines like meth delay sensations of exhaustion and heat, and that’s what makes them dangerous in summer. Users don’t just know when to stop, so they’ll keep overworking themselves until they overheat.

Prevention and treatment

Dr. Joseph Palamar, an associate professor at the NYU School of Medicine, told CNN that prevention efforts should target young adults about to finish the school year and inform them about the dangers of using drugs during hot months. According to the doctor, trying drugs for the first time puts one at a unique risk of overdose and death because they might not have prepared for the use or are unfamiliar with the drug.

It’s also important to encourage people to stop using drugs to celebrate because of the associated problems. Instead, they can try sober activities like hiking, learning a new hobby, swimming, doing service, etc. All these can still be fulfilling and come with zero risks for heat stroke and death.

Fun Things to Keep Busy & Off Drugs for the Holidays

For a lot of people, winter marks a great time of the year. They look forward to fun things like spending time with family, eating great food and celebrating the holidays. What some people don't know though, is how difficult this time of year can be for a recovering alcoholic or drug addict. For someone who is in recovery from a substance abuse problem, the holiday season can be especially troubling. Most of the time before getting sober, holidays used to be about getting drunk or high and using their drug of choice. Holidays were often an excuse to abuse drugs or alcohol, even if that meant hiding it from their friends and family.

When someone is newly sober, or sometimes even long into recovery, celebrating holidays can often become a relapse trigger and make them want to abuse drugs or alcohol again. Not to mention the limited outdoor activity, reduced sunlight, and less social contact that often comes with winter and colder temperatures. This can dramatically increase the risk of relapse for many addicts, especially those who also struggle with their mental health. If you or a loved one struggle with maintaining sobriety during the holidays, then you can probably relate.

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Here are a few fun things you can try to help keep you busy & off drugs this holiday season:

  1. Exercise

Though initially exercise may not sound like fun for everyone, it never hurts to try. Many who exercise regularly report feeling happier and less stressed when compared to those who don’t. Try signing up for a free membership at your local gym or start small by doing workout videos at home and cranking up the music. You can even download a video game like Just Dance to help get your heart rate going. If you can make it a regular habit, exercise is proven to increase things like self-confidence and reduce stress.

  1. Volunteer

Another great way to help keep you busy during the holidays is to volunteer your time to a great cause! You can start by working at your local soup kitchen or reach out to a local organization whose efforts you would like to support such as the Humane society. Research has consistently proven that those who give back to others, often feel better than those who only take care of themselves. Simply giving even just one hour of your time each week can make a world of difference for more than just yourself.

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  1. Fix Up Your Space

Is there a new design idea you have always been wanting to try? Or perhaps a cool new chair for your man cave? Try sprucing up a room in your house, one bit a time and on a budget that you can afford. Paint the walls a new color. Do whatever creatively comes to mind. This is a great way to expel some of your pent up mental energy. You can also spend time cleaning out places like the garage or the attic. All of these are great examples of things that will keep you busy and help you feel better at the same time.

  1. Get A Plant

Getting a plant can actually be very rewarding. If you have ever had the chance to speak with a gardener, they will likely tell you how mentally and spiritually fulfilling it can be. The same thing goes with getting a house plant. Attending to the needs of something as simple as a plant can help you stay busy and feel better about yourself. It can also help give you something to look forward to, which helps you further avoid a relapse, as getting drunk or high would likely mean its end. Getting a plant is also a great way of fixing up your space on a tight budget. Try visiting your local plant store and speaking with someone to help figure out the right type of plant for you.

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  1. Go Ice Skating or Play Hockey

Even though you may not be able to go outside as easily as you can in the summer, there are still plenty of activities that you can do during the colder months. There are many places to go ice skating, usually both indoors and out. You can also try to find a local hockey league in your city if you want to get a little physical on the ice. Perhaps even try getting together a group of sober friends or people from your local AA or NA support groups so that you can all lace up together and hit the puck around the ice. This is a great way to combine physical activity with your social support network while doing some fun things.

  1. Take Naps

With reduced sunlight and the related chemical changes that can happen in the brain with shorter days, it may be no surprise that you are tired halfway through the day more often than you used to be. Don't be afraid to take a nap every once in a while, maybe even once every day. Taking a nap is a great way to pass the day and has many proven benefits, such as improved cognitive abilities and heightened mood. Just as long as you don't start sleeping too much, as that can have its own set of problems.

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  1. Do Puzzles

Puzzles are a great way to get the creative juices flowing in the brain and release some mental tension. They also take up quite a bit of time to finish, which is great for the wintertime and holidays. Plus, once they are done it's a very celebratory and rewarding moment. Go to your local supermarket and take a peek at their puzzle section, you are sure to find one that you would like to complete. The great thing about puzzles is that you can do them alone, or with loved ones or friends.

These are just a few ideas to get you started on how to have fun and avoid any potential drug cravings during the holidays. We wish you the best during this time of year but if you do find that you need some additional support with your sobriety, then we are always here to help. Reach out to us at More Than Rehab any time of day!

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How to Celebrate New Years Eve Sober. Tips for Recovering Addicts.

The holiday season for most recovering addicts can be the hardest time of the year, especially on New Year's Eve. Holidays in the United States are quite often characterized for their excess. Excessive partying, binge drinking, even excessive spending and worrying about debts and other responsibilities can cause a great amount of stress during this time of year.

As the year comes to a close, Christmas decorations are coming down and many people in recovery may be experiencing stress about the biggest party night of the year: New Year’s Eve. For many it is a conundrum of questions: avoid parties altogether? Or risk experiencing loneliness, guilt and shame by staying home alone? While there is no clear cut answer for these questions that would be suitable for everyone in recovery, there are positive and negative aspects to both of those strategies. Each one can release a unique set of triggers, so the best thing you can do is be prepared for either scenario.

Have a Plan to Stay Sober:

If friends are asking you to go to parties for New Years Eve, you may be fearful that the champagne toast at midnight may be too much temptation for you to resist. Maybe you’ll run into an old friend who you used to get wasted with. Or you could see a past lover for the first time since your newfound sobriety. Either way parties can set you up for temptations and triggers that many in recovery programs are not ready to overcome yet.

If you have plans to stay home alone for the big night, this could be a potentially stress-inducing situation as well. Leaving yourself alone and isolated when everyone else is being social and celebrating can cause negative thoughts and emotions, which can be triggers in and of themselves. The loneliness can lead toward guilt and shame, which is no fun to experience alone. Many tend to either romanticize their past substance abuse, only remembering the good times or beat themselves up over their past mistakes, suffering alone in grief while everyone else seems to be enjoying themselves.

Again, preparation is essential so you are not caught off guard, without a plan. While many people experience major FOMO (fear of missing out) on New Year’s Eve, there are plenty of alternatives to celebrating with alcohol and drugs. Think about how good you'll feel on the first day of the new year, if you aren't in bed all day, nursing a nasty hangover. While that sounds like a positive plan, you should be mindful of your strengths and weaknesses in your recovery. It is a good idea to keep yourself away from potentially dangerous situations, so let’s explore some alternatives to celebrating the new year without alcohol or drugs.

Enjoy a night on the town.

Plan a night out with a close friend or relative that positively affects your mental stability and health. Go out to dinner, or a movie and enjoy time away from the house. These are good options because in these scenarios, drinking alcohol isn’t the primary focus of either of these activities. You could also go to an amusement park, grab a cup of coffee, or go to a fun kid’s attraction like miniature golf or a video game arcade. Many of these places don’t serve alcohol, but even if they did, you wouldn’t notice because the activities there are so much fun. Hanging out with people who understand your struggle and your desire to remain sober is key.

Enjoy a night at home.

You don’t want to isolate yourself alone on New Year’s Eve, so take the chance and invite people over to your house to play games, watch movies or even eat some really good food. Staying in with friends or family will definitely help you keep your mind off of partying on the biggest party night of the year. Just make sure you have good company to keep your night a positive one. If you do not have anyone to come over, make a plan to have someone to talk to if you need it. This could be a sponsor, friend or relative who cares about you.

Volunteer for a local charity.

If you don’t have anyone to come over or spend your evening with, this would be a great opportunity to help your community. You might even meet other like-minded people in the process. Volunteering your time can have a very positive impact not only on your community but on your mind and soul as well. There’s nothing as rewarding as helping someone who is less fortunate. If you love animals, many animal shelters accept help with people coming to walk dogs and pet cats. These activities help the animals maintain social skills while they await adoption. Spending time with pets is also going to make you feel good as well.

If you do find yourself going out with friends to a party, or any place where alcohol is served, there are some things you can do to help you get through the night sober. Bring your own drinks to the party and always have a non-alcoholic beverage in your hands. This will greatly help reduce the temptations that may come up at a social gathering. Being prepared with an exit plan is another good strategy to help keep you sober during the new year’s celebration. It is important to remember that you are responsible for your own sobriety. If triggers surface at the party or a bar, do not be afraid to simply leave.

Being honest with yourself and your needs throughout your recovery journey is essential to continue working the program. Having a plan is an essential component of any successful sobriety. Be mindful of relapse and have a relapse prevention plan in mind. Let your friends and family know when you need help. Devise a comprehensive relapse prevention strategy and do not be overcome with temptation.

Looking at your recovery during times of celebration can help you maintain your sobriety and keep you away from drugs and alcohol. If you need help throughout any step of the process, do not hesitate to call us. We are here for you 24/7.

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Tips For a Recovering Addict During the Holiday Season

You’ve heard of black Friday, but what about blackout Wednesday? That’s right, the holidays are often the most inebriated times of the year for many Texans. Overindulgence is common and the holiday season presents a unique challenge for people who are recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction. As people get into the holiday spirit, they often pay little attention to how much alcohol they are consuming. Many former drug addicts are faced with temptation as they go home for the holidays. It is a time of year where you may run into an old friend whom you used to use with. Many people make the excuse that: “I’ll just use this one time, it’s a special occasion!”

With more parties occurring between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, it is no wonder overindulgence is commonplace.

While the holiday season can be fun and festive, it can also be the source of a lot of stress for many people. The stress can be attributed to financial responsibilities conflicting with the generosity of the season or the stress of dealing with family members and friends you may not have the best relationships with in the past. Many people also experience SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, which is due to the lack of sunlight and warmth with the shorter days. This has physical and psychological implications for a multitude of reasons in different types of people.

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As a recovering addict, it is a difficult time of year to watch family and friends indulge in alcoholic beverages and in some cases prescription and illicit drugs. If you are in recovery, there may be a sense of guilt or embarrassment associated with your past substance abuse. You may feel that your loved ones will think of you differently, and judge you for your personal struggles. This may be the source of a lot of stress for a person in recovery around the holiday season.

As your past has likely shown you, using drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with all these sources of stress may be a familiar, easy way out. As you feel the temptation and see others indulge, (or overindulge) just know that you are your own source of strength. Perhaps you’ve just made it through a period of time in sobriety. Your own resistance to temptation will be tested and you have the power to remove yourself from difficult situations or simply say no to a friend or family member who presents you with an opportunity to use again.

There are simple, effective ways to deal with these temptations and prevent a potential relapse.

You can avoid the relapse mentality with a set of specific techniques and ideas that we hope will keep you safe and sober this holiday season.

  1. Avoid the “just have one” mentality. This is a slippery slope that many in recovery know they can’t handle the just have one drink, one line, or one hit without reverting to a full blown substance abuse.
  2. Limit the likelihood of experiencing depression or loneliness. Sometimes when surrounded by your close friends and family can make you feel the most alone. Especially for someone struggling with substance abuse. In a lot of cases the toxic relationships with family members was one of the causes of your addiction. Many people simply do not have happy memories with their families. This can be a great source of pain that is brought up around holiday time as you make plans to see them again. Perhaps your family dynamic is what led you to abuse drugs or alcohol in the first place. If this is the case you should limit your exposure to anyone who was a negative influence in your life. Tell them upon arrival that you will not be able to stay long. This way if a problem arises, you can make your exit without feeling an obligation to stay to make someone else happy.
  3. If you happened to have a problem with alcohol specifically, you should bring your own beverages to any party or gathering. Having a drink in your hand at all times is an easy coping mechanism to deal with the temptation to indulge in alcohol again. You shouldn’t leave it up to the host to cater to your special needs. Bring your own beverages. Maybe it could be a fancy coffee drink, or your favorite type of juice. Whatever you decide, make sure you have one in your hand at all times. This way people won’t ask to get you a drink and you wouldn’t be tempted in those passing moments.
  4. Don’t go it alone. Take a friend or family member with you who understands your struggle and can help enforce your limitations. Make a plan early and discuss the plan with them. If a strong temptation arises have a signal that it is time to leave.
  5. Offer to be the designated driver. If you think you can handle people using substances around you, this is a good way to help not only your friends, but also your community as a whole. There is a major increase in traffic accidents and DUI’s during the busy holiday season. If you can handle being around those who are drinking or possibly using drugs, offer them a safe ride. This will also give you a greater sense of purpose that may be just enough to help you resist temptations to indulge yourself.
  6. Sweet treats are a common pacifier to help calm cravings. Sugar triggers the chemical reward system in the brain and can help you navigate temptations during family functions and parties. Exercise is another way to boost endorphins and help you minimize cravings.

The holidays should not be an excuse to relapse or let go of all your hard work in recovery. If you know someone who is struggling with addiction in Texas, look up More Than Rehab or a treatment center in your area to find out what programs are available to help you or your loved one. The holiday season is one of the most common times that relapses occur. Let’s help each other make it through this season, sober.

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