The weather can profoundly impact your daily life, affecting your mood, energy levels, and overall well-being. Think about how you feel on a warm, sunny day compared to a chilly, rainy day. Chances are, you feel more upbeat when the weather is pleasant. But did you know that certain types of weather can also impact your risk of substance misuse and addiction? The relationship between the weather and addiction is complex, with various factors coming into play. Understanding how the weather ties into addiction risk can empower you to be more mindful of substance use and know when to seek help.
If you have developed a dependence on drugs or alcohol, Promises Brazos Valley can help. Our residential and outpatient addiction treatment programs can provide the support and resources needed for lasting recovery. To help you stay on your path after completing addiction treatment, we offer our Rooted alumni program, consisting of online and in-person weekly meetings. Reach out today at 979.426.0086 to learn more.
How Does the Weather Impact Addiction?
You may be surprised to learn that different types of weather can make you more susceptible to addiction. The weather and addiction risk are correlated because people are more likely to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol in response to certain times of year and weather events. :
The Winter Blues: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
One significant way the weather impacts addiction risk is through seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD. This is a type of depression that typically occurs during the winter months when the days are shorter and sunlight is limited. Cold weather and winter storms may often keep people indoors, possibly isolating themselves from others.
People with SAD can experience symptoms like:
- Low mood
- Lack of motivation
- Increased appetite
- Excessive sleeping
Some people may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with these symptoms. These substances provide a temporary boost but will inevitably worsen seasonal depression.
Summer-Onset Seasonal Affective Disorder
While seasonal affective disorder is commonly associated with winter, a smaller proportion of people struggle with this condition during the summer. Extreme weather conditions like heat waves can cause people to hibernate indoors. Isolating yourself during the summer is often exacerbated by a fear of missing out. Your social media feeds may be full of photos showing your friends, family, and acquaintances enjoying fun and sun.
If you experience summer-onset seasonal affective disorder, you may notice symptoms like:
- Low appetite
In addition to these symptoms, some people struggle with poor body image that can be heightened in the summer when clothing reveals more skin. They may avoid social events that involve wearing a bathing suit or shorts, adding to feelings of isolation and loneliness. These aspects of summer depression are a perfect recipe for substance misuse and addiction.
How Does the Weather Relate to Substance Use?
Even if you do not struggle with SAD, you may still be susceptible to the effects of weather on addiction risk. Several other factors can impact your substance use:
- Dehydration and heat exhaustion in extreme summer weather can impair judgment and decision-making, contributing to substance misuse.
- Blood vessels tend to constrict in cold weather, slowing the absorption of drugs like opioids and making a person more likely to take higher doses.
- Certain times of the year may be associated with increased drug or alcohol use. You may feel depressed or lonely around the winter holiday season, so you might be tempted to numb the emotional pain with prescription painkillers. On the other hand, summer may be associated with backyard barbecues and other social events that include plenty of drinking.
Your substance use behavior may correlate with changes in the weather or season. Awareness can help you be more mindful of your use to reduce the chance of developing a dependence.
Find the Recovery Support You Need at Promises Brazos Valley
How does the weather impact addiction? Although the weather can influence the temptation to use drugs or alcohol, you no longer have to let it affect you. Take control of your life by contacting the professionals at Promises Brazos Valley at 979.426.0086. We can help you overcome addiction and find healthier ways to enjoy the best of the seasons, no matter the weather.