Each season can bring about different challenges for those with substance abuse disorders. Here is a brief article from Clearbrook Treatment Centers outlining what some of those challenges may be. Remember, each individual is different and this is just an overview. What effects one person may not bother another and vice-versa.
Life is full of change and one that is constantly occurring is the seasons. Spring, summer, fall and winter all bring with them various weather patterns that affect our bodies and minds. With each seasonal change, people become more susceptible to stress, mood changes and triggers for addiction.
During these seasons, it’s important that addicts in recovery take special precautions to protect themselves from any problems.
Fall And Winter Cold
Cold months bring weather changes that affect everyone, especially if you are in areas with snowfall. When people aren’t able to get out of their homes and stay active, possible effects include:
- Difficulty concentrating
When the days are shorter, the weather is colder and people don’t leave their homes, you start to notice mood shifts. This can lead to irritability, depression and anxiety which can all cause a recovering addict to begin having cravings yet again.
In addition, when you spend multiple days stuck inside your home, boredom starts to set in. A common trigger for a relapse is boredom, so it is important to find ways to remain busy.
If these situations go unchecked, it is possible for these mood shifts to begin altering a person’s mental health. Risks associated with this include the chance of succumbing to your addiction to numb the pain, social withdrawal and suicidal thoughts.
You’ll find that all of this tends to be even worse during the holidays when addicts are already at risk for relapse.
The winter issues seem to be more prevalent in women who reside in the far north or far south. It also seems more likely if you have family members that struggle with addiction as well.
Why Is It So Bad For Recovering Addicts During Fall And Winter?
To avoid the pitfalls that the darker months bring, it’s important to take a look at the situational and environmental factors that seem to grow worse during this time. You also face:
- Boredom due to being stuck inside
- A lack of outdoor activity when the weather is bad
- Past memories of warm drinks to keep you cozy during the winter months and holidays
- A desire to escape the lack of energy you feel caused by the weather
- The need to reduce pain your body feels as a result of the cold
You also have a long list of holidays occurring during this time. Some holidays you might celebrate include:
- New Year’s Eve
- Valentine’s Day
That’s up to six holidays during this short time! These special days can affect a person recovering from addiction in multiple ways. Here are some examples:
- If you spent the previous holidays partying, you could be reminded of those “fun” times.
- There might be social or work events occurring during these holidays that bring stress and temptation.
- The trouble with your family could become more apparent during the holiday season. This adds extra tension or stress to your life.
- Watching sports during holiday events could be a trigger of relapse for you.
- While visiting other people’s homes, you have easier access to alcohol and other medications.
- If you opt to spend the holidays alone, you’ll battle with feeling depressed, bored or lonely.
During the winter months and holidays, parents are also more permissive. This is the time that many young adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 will have their first drink. Even as adults, these recovering addicts will remember those times and it can trigger a relapse.
What About The Spring And Summer?
The warmer weather brings just as many pitfalls for a person recovering from addiction. While it is a different set of situational and environmental issues you’ll face, there are still stresses to be aware of. Some might include:
- Additional stress brought on by a family vacation
- Tension having the children home during spring break
- Spring and summer parties with friends and family
- The easier availability to get alcohol or drugs because transportation isn’t limited
- During the summer months, high school and collegiate athletes are not drug tested
- Stress from past memories of drinking cold beers on a warm summer day
- Dealing with the stress of a heat wave, which is scientifically proven to increase the rates of drug usage
During the spring and summer months, there is a large emphasis placed on partying. Between Easter, Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day, there are a lot of outdoor parties occurring during these months. Whether you are in school or work, there are simply more opportunities to get drunk or high. Studies have been done that link the consumption of hallucinogens, inhalants and marijuana to the months of June and July in first-time users.
Preparing For The Risks Of These Seasonal Changes
Recovering addicts need to be ready to deal with the stress of the various weather changes. They aren’t going to stop, so you should practice your coping mechanisms each year. Over time, you’ll find that the stresses become less apparent to you as you begin to find alternate methods of releasing tension.
Here are some tips that will help to keep you on track no matter what is happening around you:
- Be aware that certain holidays and seasonal changes can involve risk for you. Sometimes, just having the awareness is enough to keep you on track.
- Ask for help during the hard months. Have a friend help provide accountability and support during stressful holidays.
- Plan your own holiday events that will be free from alcohol or drug use.
- If you begin to feel stressed or depressed, it is important that you speak with your sponsor or recovery support.
- If you feel that you are having issues with your mental health, set up a time to talk to a therapist.
- When visiting friends and family, ask them to secure their medications and abstain from drinking around you.
- Avoid any family gathering if you aren’t sure you can handle the stress related to it. This is especially important if your family hasn’t been supportive of your recovery.
- Create plans that will keep you busy during these months. Schedule plenty of sober events with supportive friends and family. Begin a new hobby or work on a project around the house when you can’t get out.
- Set a plan in motion for when you have a craving. Be prepared to walk that plan through even when you face boredom or a conflict.
- Add in some extra meetings during the stressful times. You might even need some additional addiction treatment programs during the holidays.
You need to be prepared to deal with your mood swings no matter what the weather is. Fall, winter, spring or summer could create additional stresses for your addiction that you’re not prepared for. You might face emotions, memories, arguments or encounters that catch you by surprise. Having a plan in action for these times will set you up for success.
Don’t ever be afraid to seek additional help. Your recovery is the most important thing and should never be put on the back burner. A healthy, sober you will be able to enjoy many more seasons to come.
Contact Clearbrook For Addiction Treatment Today
If you or someone you know and love is currently struggling with drug addiction or alcoholism, help is available.
For 45 years, Clearbrook Treatment Centers has been providing effective addiction treatment solutions for the suffering individual. Our programs will offer you the opportunity to recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body, and give you the necessary tools to achieve lasting sobriety.
If you are ready to make a change, please contact our Admissions Specialists today. We look forward to receiving your call today.