Are Addiction Rates Higher During The Summer?

Research shows that substance use rates are often higher in the summer. Various factors can influence this. Without intervention, a consistent pattern of substance use can increase the risk for addiction, which may require behavioral health treatment to overcome.

Summer Addiction Rates

Addiction is a struggle that affects tens of millions of teens and adults in the U.S. And some healthcare providers say that calls for help can often increase during or soon after the summer months.

A 2019 study led by researchers at the NYU School of Medicine showed that about one-third of those who reported cocaine use, LSD use, and marijuana use initiated their use in the summer.

What causes this? Researchers and treatment professionals believe there are various factors that can contribute to this documented trend of higher drug and alcohol use rates in the summer.

Top 3 Reasons Substance Abuse May Increase In The Summer

For many, the summer months can be an exciting time. It’s a time to unwind, bask in the warmer weather, and enjoy longer holiday weekends with family and friends.

But unfortunately, summer can also carry certain triggers for some in recovery from addiction. 

Moreover, it can also become a time when people, particularly young people, try certain drugs or drink alcohol for the first time.

Here are a couple of reasons why:

1. Social Pressures

Many common social activities during the summertime feature alcohol. Some involve recreational drug use, which could lead to first-time drug use or relapse.

Examples of activities that sometimes feature substance use include:

  • music festivals/concerts
  • beach parties
  • barbeques
  • family gatherings
  • other get-togethers

For a person in addiction recovery, the presence of alcohol or drug use can be difficult.

Staying sober while others around you are drinking or using drugs can be a tough battle, especially if you’re in the early stages of your recovery journey.

Social activities that involve drug use, coupled with the prompting of your peers, can also influence a person’s decision to use drugs or drink, in order to feel like they fit in.

2. More Free Time

Many adults will generally have to continue working during the summer. But many also take time off. 

And if you’re a teen or college student, you might have more free time during the summer than you do during the school year. 

Drinking and drug use can sometimes be used to fill gaps of time. Boredom is a common risk factor for addiction relapse, and may contribute to the development of a substance use disorder.

3. Life Stressors

Coupled with more free time, additional life stressors such as financial difficulties or troubles in the home can trigger urges to drink or use drugs.

Turning to drugs or alcohol to cope with stress, grief, and sadness was reported by an unusually high percentage of U.S. adults in the first year of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

And that struggle continues for many Americans. Rates of mental health concerns, like anxiety and depression, have also shot up, especially among children, teens, and young adults. 

How Drug Or Alcohol Use Can Lead To Addiction

The single use of drugs (e.g. stimulants, depressants, psychedelics) does not always lead to addiction. Most people who drink alcohol or use a drug once won’t develop addiction.

Addiction is a chronic disease that develops through a consistent pattern of compulsive drug or alcohol use, to the point where you feel out of control. 

Chronic drug abuse, or alcohol abuse, can lead to physical dependence, as well as a psychological reliance on the substance, commonly referred to as “addiction.”

What Are The Dangers Of Addiction In Summer?

Addiction carries a number of health risks, some of which can be exacerbated by consequences of warmer weather (e.g. dehydration, exhaustion) and other summer-related factors. 

Common risks and dangers associated with addiction include:

  • chronic addiction
  • difficulty maintaining employment
  • strained or ruined relationships
  • financial difficulties
  • troubles with the criminal justice system/law enforcement
  • physical health problems (e.g. high blood pressure)
  • bloodborne diseases (e.g. HIV, hepatitis)
  • accidental overdose

Drug overdose deaths over the last two years have skyrocketed, in large part due to illicit forms of fentanyl. That’s an opioid sometimes mixed in with batches of illicit drugs.

Batches of cocaine, heroin, or even drugs like marijuana, LSD, or ecstasy for instance have been found to contain traces of fentanyl, which can be lethal even in small doses.

Getting Help For Addiction In The Summer

Overcoming addiction is possible with a high-quality treatment plan that can offer you the care and treatment services you need. 

At, we have a team of professionals that help connect families with affordable inpatient and outpatient treatment options that are evidence-based and budget-friendly.

For more information about how to find an addiction treatment program for yourself or a loved one this summer, contact us online or by calling our helpline today.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

Free Rehab Centers aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.

These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.

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