Does Drug Use Vary Based on the Time of Year?

Does Drug Use Vary Based on the Time of Year?Many factors influence a person’s choice to use drugs. Genetics, environment, peer influence, stress, boredom and the need for social acceptance are all common reasons people decide to use drugs. However, according to a 2010 article released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, people take drugs to feel good or better. Some people are sensation seekers wanting to feel the euphoria, mania, or relaxation that drugs can provide. Others want to take drugs to cope with their feelings of anxiety, worry, fear, depression and hopelessness. These people are often experiencing difficult situations in the present, or they have gone through significant trauma that they’d like to forget. Drug usage provides that relief.

In general drug usage remains steady throughout the year. However, there are three time periods in which drug usage increases including the winter months, the holidays and on the first week of the month.

Drug Addiction at the Beginning of the Month

One specific time in which drug usage spikes is the beginning of each month. The New England Journal of Medicine released a report in 1999 that indicated a significant increase in the number of deaths in the first week of the month, and substance abuse was one of the causes of death. Furthermore the article indicated that previous research showed an increase of cocaine use at the beginning of the month. The researchers suggest that the reason is that people receive their paychecks and disability payments at the beginning of the month, which allows a person to purchase drugs. This in turn increases the likelihood of overdose and death.

Drug Usage in Winter Months

For some people the winter months mean the onset of a flurry of activity and recreation. The holiday season commences, which brings in family and friends. Snowfall means skiing, sledding, snowboarding and other recreational activities. It can also mean nights curled up by the fire with family and friends.

However, the winter months can be very difficult for some people. These people struggle with depression in these months every year and are diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). These people become sad and despondent during the winter but feel much better in the spring and summer according to a 2010 article in WebMD. The article also indicated that there is no one cause for SAD, but experts think it may be caused by a lack of sunlight. The lack of sunlight may upset one’s sleep cycles and in doing so cause problems with the chemicals in the brain that affect mood.

This depressed mood is likely the reason why drug use and abuse increases in the winter months. For example one study released in a 1992 volume of the International Journal of Neuroscience indicated that SAD affects drug use. In this study the euphoric effects of cocaine offset the feelings of sadness, listlessness and depression.

To counter the effects of SAD (and thereby avoid drug use and addiction), there are several steps you can take. Things you can do to counter SAD according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Light therapy (also known as phototherapy)
  • Talk therapy (psychotherapy)
  • Antidepressant medication
  • Increased exposure to sunlight
  • Exercise

If you are tempted to use drugs to self-medicate yourself against SAD, take action immediately. Talk with your doctor about medications, and find a therapist who can help you work through your depressive symptoms. Also keep in mind that the depression won’t last forever and that addiction can complicate your problem.

Drug Usage during the Holidays

The holidays can be overwhelming for everyone. Issues of family, faith and money can cause stress for even the most emotionally healthy person. For people who are wrestling with these issues often turn to drugs as a means to alleviate their feelings of anger, abandonment, abuse, failure and shame. Others are lonely without family and friends nearby. These people turn to drugs to overcome those feelings of loneliness, rejection and even boredom.

In addition these same issues are often triggers for recovering addicts. They may have not worked through those issues (which were often the cause of their addiction), and the holidays become a time in which many recovering addicts relapse according to a 2012 article from Psychology Today.

To address this problem you can hand over your check to a loved one immediately upon receipt. He or she can help you manage your money and hold you accountable for the way you spend your money.

Other Times for Increased Drug Use

The times of year above typically mark an increase in drug addiction. However, for individuals the increased risk of drug addiction can take place around significant events or milestones.

Individual calendar dates that can influence drug use include the following:

  • Birthday
  • Date of divorce
  • Anniversary
  • Anniversary of a death
  • Birth of a child
  • Anniversary of a significant event (loss of job, accident, breakup, etc.)

If you counter these temptations, you can make plans with close friends so that you don’t have a lot of time alone. These friends can help you celebrate or commemorate an event without the use of drugs.

Getting Help for Your Addiction

If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, we can help. You can call our toll-free helpline any time, 24 hours a day. You can talk with one of our admissions counselors who can help you determine the next steps you need to take. Don’t allow seasons or dates on a calendar to dictate your sobriety. Call us today, and start on the road to recovery year-round recovery.

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