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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Why High Lumen Lights Help Fight Relapse During Winter

Being in recovery from a substance abuse disorder can often be hard enough, especially in the first year of sobriety. Unfortunately, relapse rates for those who are new to recovery can sometimes be as high as 85%. Recent statistics taken from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) indicate 19.7 million people suffered from a substance abuse disorder of some kind in our country. Further research shows that just in 2019, 9.2 million people aged 18-25 were diagnosed with at least one other co-occurring mental health disorder alongside having a substance abuse disorder. Additionally, at least 50 percent of people with mental health disorders will also suffer from an addiction as well. With the winter season in full swing, we thought we would talk about the use of high lumen lights during the winter to help reduce the likelihood of a relapse.

Co-occurring mental health disorders and dual diagnosis

There has long been a strong link between mental health and rates of addiction. Suffering from a co-occurring mental health disorder or dual diagnosis, while also trying to lead a new, healthy life of sobriety can sometimes present its own set of challenges. With each seasonal change, different weather patterns affect our bodies and mind. The most difficult seasonal change seems to occur during the winter months where long, cold days affect over half of America. The colder temperatures and less exposure to sunlight have a massive, direct impact on the serotonin and melatonin production in our brains and our bodies.

Melatonin and Serotonin are both neurotransmitters that play a role in many aspects of our lives. For example, melatonin helps you get to sleep while serotonin helps you get up and feel awake the next day. Sometimes referred to as the “winter blues”, some common symptoms people may experience during cold, winter days are:

While many people will experience some symptoms during cold weather, for others, the seasonal changes affect them more dramatically.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and addiction

It is estimated that roughly 10% of the population in our country will suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, while at least 20% of people who suffer from SAD also have a substance abuse disorder. SAD is a form of major depression that affects people during seasonal changes, affecting some people nearly half the year, but most commonly it occurs during the winter months. Many people who struggle with this often do not seek treatment, attempting to self-medicate instead. Some common signs that someone may be struggling with SAD, or major depression with seasonal pattern, include:

These are just a few of the symptoms someone may experience with major depression or SAD. Oftentimes, the symptoms associated with the winter blues or SAD are overlooked because people do not understand what the person is going through. Seasonal depression and other mental health issues need to be taken seriously as they can severely impact the state of someone's sobriety and recovery from an addiction.

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As you can see, there are many reasons why someone may relapse during the winter months. Fortunately, there are many ways to relieve the symptoms associated with the biochemical changes that occur to our brains and bodies during the changing of seasons. Even with the joys of the holiday season, this most commonly occurs due to less sunlight, colder temperatures, and shorter days.

Therapeutic benefits of high lumen lights

One of the best ways to help combat these symptoms is by using high lumen light therapy, and seeking treatment from a medical health professional if needed of course!

Lumens are a measure of how bright a light is, so it would make sense that lamps with high lumen are some of the best for light therapy for treating symptoms associated with the winter blues or SAD, helping to fight relapse among those in recovery. High lumen lights used for the treatment of SAD are specialized lights that are very bright and they essentially mimic the effects of the sun. This makes high lumen light therapy a great natural option that helps restore the biochemical balance of our brain and bodies which in turn helps to alleviate the symptoms associated with not getting enough sunlight. In a way, it helps to trick our bodies into thinking the days are longer again.

Before trying high lumen lights as a form of therapy, patients are recommended to get a checkup from your eye doctor before trying treatment. One of the best things about light therapy is that it can practically be done from anywhere, as long as you have enough time set aside to reap the full benefits. Here are some tips to get the most out of light therapy:

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These are just a few tips that can help increase the impact of light therapy. Keep in mind it may take around 30 days to notice any effects from using the lightbox. If you are experiencing severe symptoms of SAD then please reach out to a medical health professional right away. The staff and family at More Than Rehab are more than happy to help those who are struggling with a co-occurring disorder and feel as though they are at risk of relapse because of the symptoms of SAD or the winter time blues. Please give us a call today.

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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) & Addiction

Mental health issues and substance abuse are often deeply connected in the human brain. According to the NationalInstitute of Mental Health (NIMH), people who experience depression disorders, such as seasonal affective disorder are more likely to have a drug or alcohol abuse problem. As the days are shorter and the sunlight escapes our daily experience, the body can react with feelings of depression or sadness. To be clinically diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder or SAD, one must meet the full criteria of depression coinciding with specific seasons for at least 2years. Furthermore, seasonal depression must be more frequent than any non-seasonal depressions.

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Recognizing the Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder:

Desperation, lack of motivation to care for oneself, irritability, weight gain and a general feeling of hopelessness are all common symptoms of SAD. The causes of this debilitating disorder are varied and can be different for different types of people. Generally, the lack of sunlight can disrupt the body’s natural circadian rhythms and also reduce the amount of serotonin produced by the brain. Melatonin imbalances can also occur which can affect sleeping patterns and your overall mood.

For someone struggling with addiction, or even those currently going through recovery, SAD can be more common than an average person might experience. Many people who suffer from seasonal depression often self medicate, using alcohol or drugs to numb the pain, sadness and grief. When this persists for a period of time, an addiction is likely to physically develop in the patient. This makes it much more difficult to treat from a medical perspective, though it is not impossible.

The co-occurrence of substance abuse and a mental health disorder is commonly referred to as a dual diagnosis. This approach treats both the substance abuse disorder and the mental health issue simultaneously, which evidence suggests is the most successful treatment for curing both disorders. Unfortunately, many who experience these problems do not seek any help from trained professionals.

For those who get help through a substance abuse treatment program, SAD can pose unique challenges for recovering addicts.

The more time spent indoors, lack of sunlight and vitamin D, and other biological factors can negatively influence anyone who experiences depression. A recovering addict is more likely to experience a relapse during these times, so one should be conscious of psychological and physical changes that may come with the changing seasons.

Holidays can be particularly stressful time of the year for many people. This is especially true for addicts and those who are going through recovery from alcoholism or another substance abuse disorder. It is important to be mindful of your feelings and physiology during this time of year and get help from trained professionals if you need it.

Some helpful tips to combat the effects of SAD:

You can also simply try to get yourself out of the house. Go outside during the limited time the sun is out. Participate in activities and events that are enjoyable and fun. If you feel your symptoms worsening, do not be afraid or ashamed to ask someone for help.

The professionals at More Than Rehab are trained to treat a myriad of symptoms related to substance abuse and mental health issues. Wether its seasonal affective disorder, or even post-traumatic-stress-disorder, help for you or a loved one is just one phone call away.  Be open and honest with yourself about your feelings, obstacles and goals in recovery from this potentially deadly disease.Sometimes when people do not seek help the problem only gets worse. Let us help you right away.

Contact us today. We are open 24/7:

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