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.

What are Quaaludes and Why Were They Popular?

Quaaludes--perhaps you’ve heard of them or maybe you have even tried them yourself? Quaaludes are often talked about with a sense of nostalgia, usually being referenced in movies by someone’s grandma who has a secret stash of them left over from the 70’s when the drug was at its height in popularity. More recently however, the drug has hit media headlines, as accusations of alleged sexual assault against Bill Cosby resurfaced. The disgraced, former TV star later admitted to giving Quaaludes to women he wanted to have sex with. It comes as no surprise that the drug was eventually outlawed in 1983 when authorities caught on to the large amount of people who were either abusing the drug recreationally or using it as a date rape drug. So exactly are Quaaludes and why were they popular?

The brief history of Quaaludes

Before the drug was marketed under the brand name of Quaaludes (as well as Sopor) by pharmaceutical companies, the generic name for it was methaqualone. Quaaludes were first synthesized in India during 1951 by Indra Kishore Kacker and Syed Husain Zaheer. Originally, methaqualone was synthesized as a new treatment for malaria when they found that it also had some highly sedative properties aside from what they had created it for. The first two markets it hit were Germany and Japan, where it racked up quite the extensive record of addiction and recreational abuse. Eventually, by 1955 it was being prescribed in Britain under the name of Mandrax, a name still used to this day.

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The drug slowly made its way over to the United States in the 1960’s, where it became widely popular in the “hippie” era. In the United States, methaqualone was mainly manufactured by a pharmaceutical company in Pennsylvania who gave the drug its iconic name. The word Quaalude combines the word “quiet” with “interlude”.  During this time, doctors were essentially giving Quaaludes out like candy. People could buy “Ludes” in semi-legal stress clinics without ever having to visit with an actual doctor. By 1972, it was the sixth best-selling sedative in America. They were also widely prescribed for the treatment of insomnia and anxiety.

However, it did not take very long for the recreational abuse and addiction to follow methaqualone overseas where it was now sold in America under the brand name of Quaaludes.

How Quaaludes became so popular in the drug culture of the United States

In part due to the easy access of obtaining Quaaludes, it became very popular in night clubs and disco scenes. This earned the drug yet another popular pop culture name known as “disco-biscuits”. Due to its popularity in night clubs and disco scenes, non-alcoholic clubs known as “juice bars” were established. These clubs catered to people who wanted to dance while high on Quaaludes, or for short, “Ludes”. Moreover, in 1981 the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) declared Quaaludes the second most abused drug in America. So, by 1983 Quaaludes were outlawed in the United States for reasons including: widespread rates of addiction, recreational abuse and because it could potentially be used as a “date rape drug”.

With the popularity of the drug during the time it was legal in the United States, one has to wonder why so many people abused the drug. Considering how long it has remained in pop culture references during the 1960’s, up until it was banned in 1983, “Ludes” remained somewhat of an urban legend. One of the main reasons for its popularity is that Quaaludes are a very powerful barbiturate. These types of drugs act as a central nervous system depressant. Quaaludes are also highly addictive.

Some of the more noticeable side effects of Quaaludes include:

These are just a few of the side effects that come with taking Quaaludes or methaqualone. Part of the increased risk of abusing Quaaludes is that it was often consumed with other substances such as alcohol, which severely increased the risk of these negative side effects occurring.

The real danger of Quaaludes

At its peak, it was also associated with a large number of suicides, overdoses, injuries, and other dangerous incidents, like car accidents. In prescribed doses, methaqualone was known to produce relaxation, sleepiness, and a slight feeling of euphoria. But the often deadly trio of easy access, peer popularity, and consumption of alcohol lead to many overdoses and comas. The reason being that a lethal dosage of methaqualone is much smaller when combined with other substances, such as alcohol, crystal meth, or other drugs with a potential for abuse. Many people also reported using the substance because of its euphoric high and sleepy drunk effect.

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Addictive drugs often become popular in the United States

Part of the popularity of the drug was also due to its highly addictive properties. When people begin using drugs, it chemically and physically alters the functioning of the brain and its production of dopamine. Much like any other substance, with repeated use people eventually will develop tolerance to the drug. This leads them to consume more and more of the drug, in order to achieve the same desired effects. Over time, the chemicals that get released in the brain will eventually trick your brain into believing that it needs that certain substance in order to survive. This makes quitting the drug much more difficult, as the brain begins to associate different places, people, or things with the drug use.

Thankfully, psychological and medical research on addiction has come a very long way since Quaaludes were outlawed in 1983. Since then, they are nearly impossible to come by on the street, but that doesn't mean they have completely vanished. If you or a loved one may be struggling with an addiction to Quaaludes, or any other substance, then please allow our wonderfully trained staff here at More Than Rehab to help. There is absolutely no shame in asking for help when you need it! You do not have to go through your addiction alone. We understand what it takes to lead a healthy and fulfilling life without the use of drugs or alcohol, so give us a call today:

888-249-2191