The Rise in Alcohol and Drug Crises Due to Hotter Summer Days

As the days get warmer and people spend more time outside, we start to see an increase in social gatherings, parties, and people going on vacation. While the heightened use of alcohol and drugs during the summertime is a common problem, there is also a physiological connection between hot temperatures and substance use.

The Link Between Higher Temperatures and Substance Abuse in the Summer

Due to a combination of social, environmental, and physiological factors, drug and alcohol consumption escalates during the summertime. With more social gatherings during the summer, often having alcohol and drugs readily available, people are likelier to consume more than they usually would. The hot temperatures during the summer days can exacerbate the effects of alcohol and drugs, resulting in higher intoxication and potentially severe health risks.

drinking alcohol on hot summer day

The summertime, for most, is a time of relaxation and enjoyment; for others, it may be a period of increased stress and other mental health issues. This increased stress may correlate with changes in schedules and routines, leading to increased use of drugs and alcohol. For communities facing environmental and economic stress, the additional stress of summertime heat can facilitate or exacerbate existing substance use issues.

The Science Behind Heatwaves and Substance Abuse

Consuming drugs or alcohol during the summertime can be incredibly detrimental to one’s health, increasing the risks of dehydration and heatstroke. High temperatures on a hot summer day can amplify the effects of consumed substances. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it causes your body to urinate more frequently while also dehydrating you. Drinking alcohol in the summer heat without drinking enough water can lead to severe dehydration and heat-related illnesses. Similarly, drugs that raise body temperatures, such as stimulants like amphetamine, methamphetamine, MDMA/ecstasy, and synthetic cathinone (bath salts), heighten the risks of heatstroke and dehydration in the summertime.

Social Dynamics: Social Gatherings, Social Media, and Substance Use

The summertime often brings an increase in social gatherings, concerts, parties, and festivals where drugs and alcohol are present. People might post pictures of them on social media while drinking on vacation or at a party more often during the summer. This might trigger someone to want to drink or do drugs to fit in or have a fun experience like others on social media. Spending time with people engaging in drug or alcohol consumption may influence others to drink or do drugs. Along with this social pressure, the festive atmosphere may encourage substance use as a means to celebrate or relax since it’s the summertime. People often attend more parties and festivals during the summertime than any other time of the year, resulting in more substance abuse and potential drug-related crises.

getting drunk and doing drugs at summer party

Heat and Mental Health Stressors

While many individuals associate the summertime with relaxation and festivities, others may experience heightened emotions and mental health issues. People with existing mental health issues such as anxiety or depression may resort to drugs or alcohol for relief. These conditions might stem from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or other psychological stressors, leading to heightened emotions rather than relief. Substance use as a coping mechanism for mental health stressors is a dangerous cycle, as the two can exacerbate one another.

Environmental and Economic Stress

Some individuals, specifically those facing environmental or economic challenges, often report increased stress from heat waves during the summer. During the summer, some individuals may experience heightened work stress, reduced or increased work hours, financial stressors, and fewer community resources. These stressors can influence individuals to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, increasing substance use disorders (SUDs) and addiction.

Increased Availability of Drugs and Alcohol

The summer months often see a rise in drug and alcohol supply and availability, both legal and illegal. The increased availability of substances during the summer can result in more individuals indulging in excessive consumption, specifically young adults and teens. With the increase in social events or festivals, there’s often a higher demand for drugs and alcohol, increasing the risks of substance-related accidents and health risks. The ease of access to substances during the summer usually leads individuals to substance use and carelessly partake in risky behaviors or decisions.

Tips for Staying Safe and Sober During the Summer

Choosing to be sober or maintaining sobriety during the summer may present some challenges as a result of societal expectations, mental health stressors, or the increased availability of substances. Sobriety is a rewarding commitment that has more benefits than downsides. While you might feel like you don’t fit in with others, you can still enjoy fun activities or festivals without the need for excessive drinking or drug use. Without substance use, individuals can be more present and mindful when participating in activities or conversations. Adopting a sober lifestyle is also healthier for your physiological and psychological health.

participating in healthy sober activities

Here are a few tips for staying sober this summer:

  1. Plan ahead and mentally prepare yourself before going to a party or event
  2. Explore new interests and hobbies
  3. Attend sober events or activities
  4. Stay hydrated
  5. Maintain a nutritional diet
  6. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family members
  7. Manage stress levels
  8. Exercise regularly
  9. Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques
  10. Connect with a support group or therapist
  11. Maintain a consistent routine for yourself
  12. Remind yourself why you chose to be sober

Staying or getting sober for the summer requires a strategic and dedicated approach. With these helpful tips, you can navigate the challenges of substance use during the summertime and maintain your sobriety. Refraining from alcohol and drug use in the summer reduces the risk of heat and substance-related illnesses, encourages you to find healthier coping mechanisms, and allows you to remain in control of your life.

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