When there are dark clouds looming or it’s been raining for days, you may feel lazy and lethargic. On the other hand, you might feel motivated and focused on bright, sunny days. You can’t deny the impact of weather on your mood and overall health.
However, it’s a lesser known fact that weather and addiction are closely related. Weather changes cause stress, negatively affect your mood, and lead to cravings that trigger substance abuse.
Cold Weather and Addiction
The exposure to sunlight brightens your mood and encourages you to go outside and stay active. Since you don’t get much sunlight during colder months, your levels of serotonin and melatonin tend to decrease. This imbalance affects your body as well as your mind.
Cold weather may lead to the following conditions:
- Negative thoughts
- Heightened irritability
- Lack of concentration
- Mood swings
These conditions tend to act as triggers for former addicts and lead to substance cravings. This is why the fall and winter seasons are the most difficult part of the year for people struggling with addiction. If you give in to the temptations, you may end up experiencing a relapse. Here is a great article about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) from Arizona Recovery, which is rated one of the best rehabs in Arizona.
Here are a few ways how cold weather can make it difficult for you to stay sober:
ADHD is a brain disorder in which the patient lacks persistence, can’t focus on the task at hand, experiences extreme restlessness, and takes impulsive and hasty decisions that may harm them. 6.4 million children ages 4-17 in the U.S. are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
As per ADHD statistics, the rate of children suffering from this condition is much higher in those states that receive little sunshine, whereas fewer children suffer from ADHD in states that receive plenty of sunshine throughout the year.
People with ADHD are more likely to get addicted to drugs or alcohol. So, if you’re an ADHD patient, then you may be tempted to abuse drugs during winters if you spend most of your time indoors. Be aware of your condition and your triggers!
Depression is the leading cause of addiction. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression, and its symptoms usually appear during cold months, i.e., winter and fall seasons. The symptoms usually go away during summers and spring.
You can identify SAD on the basis of the following symptoms:
- Low self-esteem
- Feeling depressed
- Low energy
- Sleep problems
- Losing interest in hobbies
- Weight gain
- Suicidal thoughts
- Social withdrawal
SAD isn’t good for former addicts. Weather changes increase the risk of relapse. So, try to indulge in healthy activities during colder months to keep the thoughts of substance abuse at bay and live a healthy life.
Addiction is sometimes referred to as the disease of isolation. It’s because alcohol and drug addicts tend to remain alone. They lose their interest in relationships and neglect their families. Moreover, they become less available so that their loved ones don’t try to convince them to seek recovery.
When undergoing treatment for addiction as well as during the recovery phase, it’s recommended to stay connected with others. Social interactions and communicating openly with your family and close friends can help you return to a healthy life and eliminate cravings for substance abuse.
During late fall and winter seasons, people tend to spend most of their time indoors. The more you stay indoors doing nothing, the more cravings that will stem from your boredom. Too much alone time isn’t good for people who are on the road to recovery. Spend quality time with your family and friends and share your problems with your loved ones to keep negative thoughts at bay and curb cravings.
Emotional Health Issues
Your emotional health may deteriorate during cold winter months when you can’t enjoy sunshine due to cloudy weather. During the winter season, barometric pressure tends to decrease. A research study conducted by the University of Louisville School of Medicine suggests that this low barometric pressure is closely linked with emotional health.
During colder months, violent crimes tend to increase, and the rate of patients visiting psychiatrists for emergency needs also spikes. Therefore, it is evident that this time of the year can create problems for former addicts who are trying to avoid slipping back into their bad habits.
Former addicts suffering from chronic pain also complain about experiencing more aches, inflammation, and swelling during the winter season. It’s not always easy for recovering addicts to resist temptations and they may indulge in alcohol or drug abuse as a result.
Relapse: Here’s What You Should Know
Many patients recovering from addiction tend to experience a relapse in the late fall and winter seasons. If you’re aware of its signs and symptoms, you’ll find it easier to effectively deal with it before it leads to adverse effects:
- Poor self-care
- Social isolation
- Avoid sharing your thoughts or feelings with others
- Lower self-esteem
- Poor eating habits
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Cravings to abuse drugs or alcohol
- Lying about substance abuse
- Thinking of events associated with excessive drug or alcohol use
- Looking for relapse opportunities and planning for a relapse
- Excessive consumption of substance you were addicted to in the past
- Inability to reduce consumption of alcohol or drugs
- You may give in to the temptations to escape negative thoughts
Extreme weather conditions tend to affect patients undergoing addiction recovery like nothing else. When it’s cold outside, you’re likely to take up your old habits of drug or alcohol abuse if you aren’t careful. At Scottsdale Recovery Center, you can receive addiction treatment, and the community will support you to avoid a relapse.
Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Scottsdale Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2009. Call 602-346-9142.