Summer Holds Increased Danger for Drug and Alcohol Users

Summer beach, friends

Summer has arrived, and with it comes sunshine, vacations, barbecues, and social gatherings of all kinds. But for those struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, summer can bring additional threats. While summer is enjoyed by many, the addition of heat and changes in routines can bring about additional dangers, some of which are:

1. Dehydration and Heat Stroke: Hot weather can strain the body, and some drugs can make it worse. Some drugs can disrupt the body's natural hydration mechanisms and temperature regulation. Drinking alcohol can dehydrate the body while disguising the need for hydration. This can lead to dehydration and heatstroke, and the risk is increased if the person is alone and unaware of the danger signs.

Signs of dehydration can include:

  • fatigue
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • dark-colored urine
  • rapid heartbeat
  • headache
  • muscle cramps, which can also indicate a lack of potassium
  • excessive thirst

Signs of heat stroke can include:

Man feels not well in the summer day
  • nausea or vomiting
  • unconsciousness
  • hot, dry, red skin
  • rapid strong pulse
  • rapid shallow breathing
  • confusion and/or slurred speech
  • a core body temperature of above 104° Fahrenheit or above

Heat stroke is a medical emergency, which must be dealt with immediately to prevent organ damage and possibly death. Call 911 and, while waiting for help to arrive, help the person by:

  • moving the person to a cool area
  • removing excess clothing
  • cooling the person off using whatever means are available, e.g., spraying the person with a garden hose, putting them in a cool bath or shower, and applying ice packs or cold wet towels to the groin and armpit areas.

2. Increased Drug or Alcohol Use: There have been studies that suggest that the summer months are a time of increased drug and alcohol use. This could be due to several factors:

  • More free time: With school out of session, vacations being taken, and a potential shortage of summer jobs, there is less structure and supervision, which can create an environment for unsupervised drug use.
  • Social pressures: As people spend more time with friends and acquaintances, there may be pressure to “join the fun” or to want to be part of the “cool crowd.” Parties and social gatherings such as beach days and barbecues may happen more frequently, and drugs and alcohol might be more readily available than usual. Peer pressure like “have a beer, everybody has one” and the desire to “fit in” can be factors that significantly increase the risks of drug or alcohol use.
  • Stress escape: Drugs or alcohol may be used as a coping mechanism to relieve the stress of heat, increased social interactions, or financial burdens due to vacations, unemployment, or lack of a structured school routine. While drugs or alcohol may temporarily relieve stress, neither is a long-term solution.
  • Mental/emotional risks: Increased pressure to socialize or participate in activities can worsen anxiety or feelings of isolation, which can potentially lead to initial or increased substance use. Many try to “escape the pressure” by using drugs or alcohol.

Although summer isn’t the only cause of drug or alcohol use, it can play a part. Being aware of the potential risks inherent to the “fun in the sun” time of year can help you avoid potential problems. Some safety tips include:

Happy woman
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids, even if you don't feel thirsty. Water with electrolytes is always a good choice.
  • Stay cool: If you’re overheated, you’re at an increased risk of heat stroke. Spend time in air-conditioned spaces whenever possible to reduce the risk.
  • Avoid risky situations: It may be necessary to decline invitations to events where drugs or alcohol may be present. Let people know that drugs or alcohol aren’t something you’re going to partake in. Suggest healthier alternatives.
  • Find Support: Connect with friends and family who can offer encouragement during this potentially challenging time.
  • Seek Treatment: If you are already in active addiction, help is waiting for you. Narconon has been saving lives worldwide for over 55 years and continues to do so.

Summer should be a time for healthy fun, relaxation, and enjoyment. Be aware of the increased risks and take steps to stay safe. This can help you overcome the temptation to use drugs and alcohol. If, however, you find yourself, your friends, or your family falling into the trap of drug or alcohol abuse, help is available and you should not hesitate to reach out. You may save your own life or the life of someone precious to you.

AUTHOR

Elaine M.

Elaine has always loved helping people and has always focused on service, which led her to Narconon Arrowhead in 2017. She soon discovered that her true passion is helping people regain control of their lives through drug and alcohol rehabilitation. She is currently Executive Director of Narconon Arrowhead. In her spare time, Elaine enjoys crocheting and cuddling with her cats.

NARCONON ARROWHEAD

DRUG EDUCATION AND REHABILITATION