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Summer Drug Use: ‘Tis the Season for Triggers!

summer drug use

What do you picture when you think of summer? The beach, BBQs, pool parties, the run-down mini van your family used to pile into for road trips to the lake? Summer inspires pretty consistent visuals across the average population. But did you know it also inspires drug use?

A new study shows that American teens and adults are more likely to use or try drugs in the summer.

Why is Summer Drug Use More Popular?

It’s natural to see drug abuse as a broad issue without ties to social factors, location, or even seasons. But evidence is being collected regularly that proves otherwise.

In a study on first-time drug use, researchers found that 34% of recent LSD users first used the drug in the summertime. Similarly, 30% of MDMA use and 28% of cocaine use began in the summer.

As far as first-time drug use goes, it’s not hard to see some of the connections that inspire summer drug use. Lively recreational activities in which drug use is common tend to take place in the summer. Music festivals, for example, house a high popularity for recreational drug use and typically occur during the summer months.

Occurrence of alcohol or drug use increases in the summer in general, first time or not. Any season that involves more parties, celebrations, and social gatherings tends to also involve more substance use. Think about the typical summer parties you go to or see other people posting about. Are people drinking or using drugs? Even if drug use isn’t as common, a majority of summer BBQs and pool parties include copious amounts of alcohol. Binge drinking increases and inhibitions lower. Lowered inhibitions can spark increased drug use.

summer drug use

How to Resist Temptation at Summer Parties

Because of the increase in drug and alcohol use, summer can be a very triggering season for recovered addicts. But avoiding triggering events might also mean missing out on important celebrations with friends and family.

While summer drug use climbs, try these tips to resist temptation at potentially triggering social events:

Give yourself a time limit

Limiting the amount of time you’re at a party where drugs and alcohol are present translates to limiting the amount of time you’re near those triggers. It’s much easier to say no towards the front end of an event when you’re busy saying hi, meeting new people, and soaking in the fresh excitement. Try giving yourself an hour or two to pop in and catch up and then leave while you’re still strong in your resolve.

Bring a friend

Attend the event with a friend who supports your recovery. It’s much harder to say no when you’re by yourself. Having an understanding and supportive friend with you adds a layer of accountability. Just remember that while a friend can be supportive of your sobriety, they’re not responsible for it.

Drive your own car

Driving yourself to the party means that you hold the freedom to leave whenever you want to. You’re not tied to someone else’s plan. If the environment starts to get too triggering or stressful, you don’t have to ask for a ride or wait for anyone to sober up. You hold the power and freedom to remove yourself from the situation.

Go to a meeting beforehand

If you attend a fellowship meeting the night before or morning of the party, that support and motivation will be fresh in your mind when things start to get a bit more chaotic.

Keep a (non-alcoholic) drink in your hand

Even if summer drug use isn’t present at the party, alcohol likely is. It’s natural for hosts and party guests to offer drinks to each other while catching up. Even if your friends are supportive of your recovery, a casual “Can I grab you a beer?” might slip out, especially if they’ve had a drink or two themselves. Keeping a soda, water, or even a mocktail in your hand is a natural deterrent in such circumstances. If you’re already holding a drink, guests are a lot less compelled to ask if they can grab one for you.

Substance abuse may be at a high, but the general popularity of summer drug use does not need to be a spark for your relapse. With the right support and a proactive plan, you can still thoroughly enjoy a summer BBQ, pool party, or lake trip — even if Ol’ Trusty the Mini Van has long been retired.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, our addiction counselors are available 24/7: 855-997-4702

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