hot summer days and alcohol and drug crises, drug and alcohol abuse during the summer

With the summer season approaching quickly and social gatherings, outdoor events, and vacations happening, the upsurge of drug and alcohol use is no surprise. Substance use during the summer, especially outside in the summer heat, is often accompanied by physiological and psychological stress, increased hospital visits, and potentially life-threatening health consequences.

Factors Influencing Drug and Alcohol Crises during the Summer

While some individuals anticipate warmer temperatures, others dread the summer heat. Summertime is often associated with relaxation, celebration, and vacations, which usually encourage alcohol consumption and even drug use. These social norms have led individuals who may not drink alcohol or do drugs to feel inclined to use them to either experiment or enhance their summer experience.

In addition to this relaxed and celebratory atmosphere, the summer heat can lead to poor air quality, dehydration, and heat exhaustion. These physiological, social, and environmental factors have led to a rise in hospital visits and health crises from alcohol and drug abuse in higher temperatures.

alcohol and drug abuse during hot summer festival party, alcohol and drug crises in the summer

Alcohol-related deaths from alcoholic liver disease and alcohol use disorder (AUD) have increased in the United States in the last two decades. Drug overdose deaths from illicit or prescription drugs have escalated from nearly 20,000 to 100,000 drug overdose deaths per year.

Drug and alcohol abuse in the United States is a rising concern, and with warmer temperatures approaching, it’s integral that more individuals understand the significant risks associated with substance abuse in the summertime.

Physiological Stress from the Summer Heat

Hot summer climates pose a severe risk of dehydration, especially when drug use and alcohol consumption are involved. Warm weather conditions can lead to increased perspiration or excessive sweating, causing the body to lose water and become even more dehydrated. The summer heat and dehydration can exacerbate the effects of drugs and alcohol, resulting in more significant intoxication and potentially more severe health issues.

Alcohol is a diuretic, which causes the body to urinate more frequently and lose more body liquids. With alcohol’s dehydrating effects and the heat, excessive alcohol use in the summertime can lead to severe dehydration and adverse health outcomes. Prolonged heat exposure alongside dehydration can lead to heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Heat stress while consuming drugs or alcohol can also amplify its effects and result in medical emergencies.

man experiencing alcohol and drug crises from summer party

Increasing Rates of Psychological and Behavioral Issues

The discomfort of a hot summer day may heighten emotions such as feelings of anxiety, stress, irritability, and even depression. Many individuals use drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism, resulting in worsening mental health issues. Summertime can encourage risky behaviors and impulsive decision-making, which often correlates with substance abuse. Risky decisions while under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs may facilitate feelings of regret, anxiety, and depression.

Social Dynamics Promoting Substance Abuse

Outdoor social gatherings, festivals, and concerts are expected during the summertime. The presence of alcohol and recreational drugs is prevalent in these environments due to the social atmosphere and celebratory nature. Festivals and outdoor parties can go on for several hours a day or multiple days in a row. The prolonged heat exposure, along with the excessive consumption of drugs and alcohol, can pose several physiological and psychological risks.

Environmental Risks during the Summer

Urban areas such as Miami, Chicago, and New York experience significantly higher temperatures than their surrounding rural areas. This is known as the urban heat island (UHI) effect, which results from tall buildings, concrete, roads, and other surfaces absorbing and re-emitting heat. Individuals living in these areas may suffer from more extreme temperatures during the summertime, heightening their risks of dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke.

When drugs and alcohol are brought into the picture, there has been an upsurge in substance use-related hospital visits. The most common substances fueling these medical emergencies are alcohol, cannabis (marijuana), opioids, cocaine, stimulants, and sedatives.

sober community doing sober summer activities, having a sober summer without alcohol and drug crises

How to Have a Safe and Sober Summer

Drug and alcohol abuse at any time of the year can be potentially life-threatening, which is why the safest method is sobriety. With all of the associated risks with drug and alcohol abuse in high temperatures, having a sober summer is safer and more enjoyable. Sobriety during the summer allows you to enjoy outdoor activities and events without worrying about excessive dehydration, reduced inhibitions, or potentially severe health issues.

Without substances, you’re more aware of your emotions, decisions, and surroundings. Choosing to be sober is an opportunity to explore different hobbies and interests, learn new skills, and develop new connections. Here’s a list of activities you can enjoy during the summer while staying sober:

  • Outdoor Activities: Hiking, biking, camping, swimming, or kayaking.
  • Try New Hobbies or Interests: Gardening, knitting, reading, painting, or drawing.
  • Join Sober Communities or Support Groups
  • Mindfulness and Meditation
  • Volunteer Work or Community Service
  • Participate in Charity Runs, Walks, or Other Events
  • Practice and Prioritize Self-Care: Rest, stress management, spa days, mindfulness, or time in nature.

Enjoying hot summer days, social gatherings, festivals, or seasonal events does not require drug or alcohol consumption. You can always bring your non-alcoholic beverages or mocktails to engage in the celebrations. You can have fun while staying safe and sober during these summer activities and events. Remember to keep hydrated and drink plenty of water outdoors to prevent heat-related illnesses.

If you’re struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, don’t hesitate to seek professional help and treatment. Rock Recovery Center offers mental health therapy and drug rehab treatment in West Palm Beach, FL. If you’re looking to get sober and achieve long-term recovery, reach out today!