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.

Should I Be Afraid of Rehab?

Addiction affects almost every part of your life. Admitting that you have an addiction problem is the first step toward recovery. Denial is a large part of addiction, and breaking through self-deception is very difficult. So, if you’ve reached a point where you accept that drugs and alcohol are a serious problem in your life, then you’ve probably dealt with the hardest part. Rehabilitation is only a small part of it, yet many can be afraid of rehab. It's a huge life-changer and it can be difficult, but that shouldn't discourage you.

Addiction is a chronic disease that changes the way the brain functions. You may no longer have control of how you feel or act. But you should know that this isn’t about willpower or morals – it’s about acknowledging that you need help and accepting it.

It’s normal to have fears about rehab. Millions of others also fear joining rehabs for various reasons. So much so that only 10% of 20.4 million people with substance use disorders sought out addiction treatment in 2019. But fears only get in the way of sober living. Joining an addiction treatment center is going to be your best shot at addiction recovery.

But still, no one wants to join drug addiction treatment programs – at least not at first. Rehab is a scary thought for many families and people who struggle with addiction. The word itself comes with a huge stigma, and the idea of joining a facility for residential treatment can be equally overwhelming.

Also, joining rehab means letting go of substances, leaving the comforts of your home, and starting a new life. It means giving up control and embracing change. But as they say, change is as good as rest.

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Common fears about rehab

Fear of detox and withdrawal

The thought of detox or withdrawal symptoms can be intimidating, especially if you’ve experienced them before or have heard stories. While withdrawal isn’t going to be your cup of tea, there are many ways to make it comfortable and tolerable. Treatment programs offer full-time help and access to medications and therapies to ensure you are pain-free. You’ll also be monitored by trained medical staff throughout your entire detox process.

Fear of leaving behind your life

Walking away from your comfort zone – your family, home, job, friends, or even substances can be scary. After all, you are leaving behind your life as you’ve known it and heading towards the unknown. But while this thought can be overwhelming, treatment is way less damaging than staying and continuing with your using habits. If the people you’re scared to leave behind care about you, they will be happy to see you get help.

Just ensure that everything is in order so that your only concern is to sober up. Arrange care for your elderly parents, children, or pets. Apply for the 12 weeks of family and medical leave to protect your work and sign up for automatic bill payments. The goal is to leave bills, jobs, and drama outside so you can focus more on getting better.

Fear of missing out (FOMO)

FOMO is one of the most common fears many people who struggle with addiction deal with before going to rehab. The illusion that drugs and alcohol go hand in hand with fun can make you skeptical about getting help. You may feel as though you’ll miss out on weekends, or after work, and so on. There’s also the aspect of friends; how they’ll hang out without you and how boring your life will get without them.

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All these can be overwhelming, making you afraid of rehab and what happens afterwards. But substance abuse only leads to addiction, legal issues, financial troubles, broken relationships, etc. Unless you break free, you really won’t have a clear perspective of what fun means. Once you go through rehab, you’ll make new friends, learn new things, take up a hobby, travel, and even spend more time with loved ones. You’ll also identify fun activities that aren’t harmful to your health and relations.

Fear of not knowing how to cope with anxiety and stress

If you fall into the 50% category of those who experience substance use disorder due to mental health issues, you may fear that you won’t know how to cope once you stop using. But the good news is that treatment facilities often offer 12-step programs to help you resolve most of the underlying issues. They also offer holistic treatments to address mind, body, and soul. On top of that, they point you to support groups to serve as your sounding board, so there's no need to be afraid of rehab.  

Fear of dealing with past trauma, neglect, or abuse

Many aspects – including childhood neglect, abuse, and trauma – might have contributed to your substance use disorder. Perhaps you’ve been suppressing the difficult past, but now you’re dealing with the prospect of facing it as part of the healing process.

It is scary to face the ghost of the past, but you won’t do it alone. Treatment centers have counselors who will hold your hand throughout the process. You’ll also have access to group therapy and other treatment options to help you process thoughts, emotions, and beliefs linked to the past trauma. In the end, the past won’t have a grasp on you.

Fear of starting a new life

Without drugs or alcohol, you may have no idea what you are, and that’s a scary place to be. But this is only temporary. During treatment and early recovery, you’ll be able to step out of your comfort zone and try new stuff. You’ll also hang out with sober friends and family and create new experiences. This might be a great time to try out new hobbies and interests.

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Fear of failure

One of the main reasons most people are afraid of rehab is the fear of failure. The thought of going through a treatment plan but ending up with a relapse is devastating. But failing to try because you fear failing is denying yourself an opportunity to lead a clean life. In fact, you may be shocked by how well you respond to treatment.

And even if you relapse, it is still a step in the right direction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse shows that 40-60% of people with addiction relapse after treatment. Should you relapse, it’s vital to point out the triggers and find a way to avoid placing yourself in similar situations again.

Fear of success

Perhaps you’ve done things in the past that you aren’t proud of and feel like you have to punish yourself or be unhappy forever. Or maybe you suffered in the hands of someone who said you didn’t deserve happiness or that you wouldn’t amount to anything, and you believed them. So you’re always self-sabotaging to avoid success.

But everyone deserves a shot at happiness. Embrace your fears and not run away from them. Treatment centers have experts who will reinforce positive mental health and help you overcome any trauma that may have affected you. There is no need to be afraid of rehab. Depending on the rehab, the treatment plan may also include a faith-based approach to help you connect with your higher power to overcome addiction.

Where Did Meth Come From? A History of Methamphetamine

Today, there are more than 1.6 million Americans who report having abused crystal meth sometime within the past year. Out of that number, roughly one million of them will also state that they suffered from a methamphetamine use disorder within that same year. A substance use disorder, also known as an addiction, is when someone uncontrollably seeks out and uses drugs despite suffering negative life consequences. In the United States alone, roughly 20 million Americans suffer from a substance use disorder of some kind, and meth use takes up quite a big share of that number. Though it has been around for quite some time, the history of methamphetamine, how it was created and how it was first used is not very well-known.

The history of methamphetamine

In 1887, a Romanian chemist by the name of Lazar Edeleanu became the first to synthesize a substance known today as amphetamines. Amphetamines are a synthetic stimulant that is very similar to methamphetamine, in both structure and their associated side effects. However, amphetamines are still legally prescribed today for the treatment of conditions such as ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and narcolepsy. Though discovered in 1887, amphetamine was not clinically used until the 1920’s when Gordon A. Alles resynthesized the drug and used it for the treatment of things like asthma, hay fever, and the common cold.

While amphetamines were first discovered in 1887, the discovery of methamphetamines occurred shortly thereafter. Nagayoshi Nagai first synthesized methamphetamine, a variant of amphetamine, in 1893 in Japan from a chemical that is commonly known as ephedrine. Methamphetamine is much more potent than the previously discovered amphetamine and was used in Japan for the treatment of things like schizophrenia, depression, and Parkinson's disease. However, the widespread use of methamphetamines didn’t become popular until the 1940’s during the second World War.

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During WWII, Temmler, a German pharmaceutical company, marketed and sold unprescribed methamphetamine tablets under the name of Pervitin. It was during this time that German, Japanese, American, and English governments all began giving their military troops methamphetamines in order to help enhance performance and reduce fatigue. Aside from the military use of the drug, people like truck drivers, students, and stay-at-home moms all began using Pervitin for a variety of reasons. Some used the drug as a way to stay awake, lose weight, or simply to feel like they were operating at peak performance. It has also been long-rumored that the Japanese Kamikaze pilots were given high doses of Pervitin before crashing their plane.

The history of methamphetamine use in the post-World War 2 era

By the 1950’s there was still a relative lack of public awareness surrounding the usage of both methamphetamines and amphetamines, so the use of both continued to soar. Both substances were also still mostly legal for the use in over-the-counter drugs. Nasal sprays containing amphetamines were also widely popular among various populations and both substances were still prescribed often for the treatment of conditions like depression, obesity, and narcolepsy. It was during the late 1950’s that an injectable form of methamphetamines first became available.

Due to its increasing popularity and low regulation, outlaw biker gangs began “cooking” meth, which quickly led it to become part of the 1960’s drug culture. The term “crank'' derives from the fact that biker gangs used to hide their stash in their crankshaft. Perhaps also in part due to the creation of injectable IV bags full of methamphetamines, more and more people begin using it for its euphoric effects instead of for the intended medical purposes. The subculture of methamphetamine users grew even stronger because of this, with more and more erratic behavior becoming noticeable among its users. This behavior, known as “tweaking” began to cause some alarm from health experts and governments around the world.

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Around this time, authorities in the United States began to take notice as people began experiencing issues with meth abuse and addiction. It was also becoming increasingly difficult to deny some of the negative side effects associated with the use of these harmful substances. The often noticible side effects of meth abuse include paranoia, delusions, and even total heart failure. It was in 1959 when over-the-counter nasal sprays were first banned by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in America.

With increased Federal regulation came an increase in illegal and dangerous labs, where the illicit manufacturing of methamphetamines began to take place, primarily along the Southern border as ingredients were extremely easy to obtain in places like Mexico. Even though by the 1970's, amphetamine use had been highly regulated and methamphetamines all but outlawed, it was still highly popular among illicit drug users in America. That is why in the early 90’s Federal regulation cracked down tightly on the sale of over-the-counter medications containing chemicals such as ephedrine, a primary ingredient in the illegal manufacturing of meth.

Meth use skyrockets in the US during the 1990s and early 2000s

Despite the best efforts of government regulations, members of the illegal drug trade always find a way to fill the void eventually. Between 1994 and 2004, meth abuse in America soared from just under 2 percent of the adult population to approximately 5 percent – more than doubling in one decade. This prompted even tighter regulations, requiring the verification of a valid ID and that certain products be moved behind the counter. Though meth use has declined over the past decade, in part due to these efforts, it still remains a huge problem that many are facing in our country every day.

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Unfortunately, the war on drugs is a continuing effort that seems to be a vicious cycle with illegal labs continuing to pop up across the country, but that does not mean that there is no hope for those who struggle with an addiction or a substance abuse disorder. Both amphetamines and methamphetamines are highly dangerous and addictive substances that can often be very difficult to get away from, especially without professional help.

Here at More Than Rehab, we understand the power of addiction but we also know what it takes to overcome it. The journey to sobriety can be tough, so let us help guide you and start you on your path to recovery. If you, or a loved one are struggling with any kind of substance use problem, please give us a call any time of the day! You can also chat with us online. We are here to help you, 24/7, 365 days a year. We wish you the best and we hope to hear from you soon!

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