Turning Point Director Abigail Powell was a guest on the NPR Morning Edition broadcast on July 24th, where she contributed to the conversation regarding first-time drug use during the summer, highlighted in a recent study conducted by NYU School of Medicine. During this roundtable discussion, Powell explained how first-time users are not the only ones lured into drug use during the summer, but recovering addicts are also lured into falling off the wagon and experiencing a relapse.
“When there's more partying or binge drinking, from that point comes fewer inhibitions and an increase in other drug use,” Powell said, adding, “There is an uptick in relapse, even of people who are attempting to remain abstinent or to cut down on their use.”
The most commonly abused drugs in the summer are recreational drugs such as ecstasy/MDMA/molly, cocaine, LSD, or marijuana. As many as 1/3rd of U.S. adolescents and adults surveyed who had used these drugs claim to have started using during the summertime. The problem with using these drugs on a whim, among others, is that most first-time users are unprepared for the effects of the drug, and may mix multiple drugs and amplify the damage they do to their bodies and minds. Those who relapse are also at particular risk of harm because their bodies are no longer accustomed to the addict’s former drug of choice, nor the dosage.
Addiction is a complex disease which can strike anyone. While everyone’s story is different as to how their addiction began, many experience drugs for the first time during the summer months. This correlation makes sense, because many people socialize more during the warmer months, enjoying things like music festivals, cookouts, and beachgoing. All these places where people gather potentially set the scene for rowdy partying, often including alcohol and drugs. These same factors affect recovering addicts and make them more tempted than ever to get that same, familiar high they once enjoyed.
Every person has different triggers, but some are common among first-time users and relapsing drug addicts, triggers for drug relapse that are especially prevalent during summertime include avoiding certain. Some of the social gatherings and events a person attends that are more likely to have drugs should be avoided, especially places like musical festivals, where drug use is rampant. Some are triggered to use drugs as a way to self-medicate their negative emotions. It can be hard to cope while depressed, angry, or while feeling anxious. A person should be careful not to attend tempting gatherings while feeling these negative emotions, as it could trigger a relapse.