Weather can absolutely affect a person’s mental health, including addiction. Everyone has different triggers that activate their mental health symptoms. One person’s cheerful sunshine can be a reminder of a traumatic event for another. Are you wondering, how does weather impact addiction? Learn more about the connection between weather and addiction and our addiction treatment programs by calling Promises Behavioral Health today at 844.875.5609.
How Does Weather Impact Addiction?
The weather can’t directly lead someone to drink or use drugs, but it does affect mood. People often associate dark, gloomy weather with a low mood. A lack of sunlight exposure can lead to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and directly impact the balance of brain chemicals needed to regulate mood.
However, weather triggers are different for every person. It isn’t necessarily the type of weather that matters; it’s the effect the weather has on an individual that’s important.
It may be cold, and icy roads make it difficult to get around safely. Or it may be raining, and plans get canceled because of the storm. Perhaps it’s hot outside, and all you want to do is stay at home and lay under a fan.
Isolation is an unhealthy habit for anyone, but people recovering from substance use disorders need to be especially careful about spending too much time alone.
There are many reasons why less-than-perfect weather can force you (or be an excuse) to cancel plans. When it truly is unsafe to travel for support meetings or socializing with friends and family, consider connecting online or making a good old-fashioned phone call.
In addition to affecting your social life, weather can affect your level of outdoor activity. People in recovery know how crucial it is to maintain a regular exercise schedule, especially outdoors.
Fresh air, sunlight, and a change of scenery are important elements of a healthy lifestyle and the high level of self-care that’s needed to prevent relapse.
It’s not just bad weather or traumatic memories that can trigger the urge to use drugs or alcohol. Remember that perfect spring day when you and your friends stopped by the liquor store and … well, you get the picture.
Weather can evoke memories that lead to romanticizing old times that involve substance use. Other weather-related triggers to be aware of include:
- Stress caused by inclement weather (canceling plans, storm damage, etc.)
- Financial stress related to extra costs for heating or cooling
- Family stress when kids need to stay indoors or miss school
- Social pressure when others “cool down” or “warm up” with alcoholic drinks
It may be difficult for others to understand how sunshine or a certain scent in the air can make you want to return to old habits, but recovery peers and professionals understand. The link between weather and addiction is strong.
What Does Science Say About Weather and Addiction?
To date, no studies show an explicit connection between weather and addiction. However, there is some evidence to show that changes in barometric pressure do affect mental and physical health.
Low barometric pressure has been found to cause headaches, disrupt sleeping patterns, and worsen pain from inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.
While none of these factors are directly responsible for addiction, they all affect an individual’s overall well-being and ability to regulate their mood.
Learn More About Issues Affecting Addiction at Promises Behavioral Health
“How does weather impact addiction?” is the type of topic you can expect to explore in an addiction treatment program. Recovering from a substance use disorder requires a whole-person approach that includes all the ways substance use has impacted a person’s life and vice versa.
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction disorder, call Promises today at 844.875.5609.