Summer is typically the time of year that almost everyone looks forward to most, including teenagers and adults alike. School is out and it’s time to go to pool parties, attend barbecues and cookouts, go on road trips, take family vacations to the beach, and participate in all the other adventures that happen during summer. With so much fun to be had, it’s no wonder summer can seem like a season of unlimited possibilities.
It can also be the time of year that’s most dangerous for some, especially those concerned about their drinking or drug use. All the fun activities you’re looking to attend probably take place in mixed crowds, i.e., with friends and family members who enjoy partaking just a little too much by drinking copious amounts of alcohol or using recreational substances. For many people, the summer celebrations are not complete without ice-cold margaritas on the beach and beers beside the grill.
While drinking in moderation can add to the summer holiday spirit, it’s important to be aware of temptations to overdo it and take positive steps to delay, prevent, or moderate your intake of alcoholic drinks and other substances.
Why Do Drug and Alcohol Consumption Rates Increase in the Summer?
Although those who have alcohol use disorder are likely to continue their drinking patterns year-round, some people may be tempted to start drinking heavily during the summer when their friends and peers are doing the same.
Also, generally speaking, people associate alcoholic mixed drinks with downtime and socializing. Since the summertime is full of both, the drinking habits of many people may be affected during these months. Holidays like Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and Labor Day may also impact their drinking.
Why does that happen? The following reasons might explain this phenomenon:
Extensive Substance Use at Music Festivals
Almost 32 million Americans go to at least one music festival each year, according to a Nielson report. This number may have dipped during the pandemic, but with so many events lined up for 2022 and beyond and with people looking to let off some steam from being locked in for so long, millions are estimated to attend this year’s summer festivals.
Apart from the great music, one other thing these music festivals are famous (or infamous) for is the prevalent use of drugs and alcohol. Even though law enforcement agencies are cracking down on these gatherings by increasing patrols, controlling a crowd of hundreds of thousands of young adults to ensure moderate alcohol consumption and no drug misuse is understandably not an easy task.
Just like there is incredible peer pressure to drink alcohol excessively at college or office parties, there is the same kind of pressure to use cannabis, narcotics, or other illegal drugs at these events.
Alcohol and Social Gatherings Go Hand in Hand
Whether you’re a student, soon-to-be-college-graduate, or a seasoned employee, substances like alcohol and weed are almost guaranteed to be in surplus at any average party you go to this summer. When you combine that with peer pressure and societal expectations, you’ve got the perfect recipe for risky behavior.
Young adults in college are more prone to succumbing to the demands of heavy drinking because many are just trying to “fit in”. And the worst part is, most of this peer pressure often comes from the people they know, so trying to turn to a close friend for support often doesn’t help. As more and more evenings pass, the odds of a previously non-drinker turning into a habitual or binge drinker increase as well.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), when someone consumes 4 or more alcoholic beverages in less than two hours, and they do this at least once every month, it’s known as binge drinking. Considering the frequency of party nights at college, it’s not that surprising that many students have a potentially harmful relationship with alcohol.
How to Enjoy Your Summers Safely with Moderate Drinking
Whether you are going to be hosting parties this summer or attending them, there are a few steps you can take to ensure you drink in moderation.
Here are some key strategies to help you either stay sober or moderate your drinking and/or drug use.
Stay Hydrated: When you are out in the sun, alcohol can hit you harder if you’re dehydrated. Plus, being outside makes you thirstier so grabbing more drinks to quench your thirst may seem tempting. Make sure you drink a glass of water before you drink any alcoholic beverage and then between every drink. This will not only keep your body hydrated but will also slow your alcohol consumption.
Know Your Limits: Pay attention to how many drinks you have, how much alcohol is in every drink, and how you feel between each one. Drinking too much too quickly means you can go from sober to drunk quickly. Pace yourself throughout the event to make your time more enjoyable.
Engage in Alternative Activities: If you know there’s going to be plenty of temptation at a party, remember, there are other ways to spend quality time with your loved ones. Instead of bonding over alcohol at dinner, what else can you do that doesn’t involve alcohol? How about going to the movies, shooting some hoops in the driveway, or playing touch football.
Learn to Say No: No matter what your friends and family members might say, you don’t have to have a drink – and you don’t have to explain yourself. It’s quite alright to politely refuse when you’re offered an alcoholic drink or other drug.
Do Something for Yourself: If you’re stressed out due to work or something else, find another way to take care of your mind and body to find relief. Get a massage, join a yoga class, or spend a weekend hiking, fishing, or camping out under the stars.
Create Another Focal Point for Your Party: If you’re hosting a party, make the conversation, games, and family the focus of your gathering. Be creative and serve a few delicious alcohol-free drinks. Also, you may want to avoid serving too salty foods that usually encourage people to drink more.
Set Non-Negotiable Boundaries: If you’re trying to maintain sobriety or decrease your consumption and feel a certain situation would be dangerous to your progress, don’t go. If a situation that was fine seems to be turning into a difficult one for you, don’t hesitate to leave.
Avoid Toxic Situations: Stress, anxiety, and depression tend to make people drink more alcohol. If you know there’s a chance that you’ll run into a toxic person or situation at a gathering, don’t go. Don’t let others’ expectations of you and what you should be doing wreak havoc on your health and wellbeing.
Have Transportation Options: If you go to an event but worry there may be an issue with drug or alcohol use, make sure you have the option of leaving whenever you want.
Have Your Support System on Stand-By: Make sure someone you trust or a clinical professional or is available to call if you need to talk to someone. There are also digital tools that you have 24/7 access such as the choices subscription offered by Checkup & Choices. Also, have more than one person in your corner that you can depend on during these situations.
Talk to Your Loved Ones: It doesn’t hurt to be honest with your friends and family about your needs, fears, and emotions. If you’re worried or fearful about a particular issue, share that with them. People who love you want the best for you so they will support you.
At the end of the day, it’s all about surrounding yourself with those who support you and are willing to engage in activities that are healthy for you. Start practicing mindfulness to become more aware of what’s going on with you and how it’s affecting your drinking. If you think you tend to drink a lot more when you’re around a certain friend or family member, it’s time for you to figure out how to better deal with them or limit your exposure to them.
Health & Behavioral Risk of Drug and Alcohol Use
The negative mental and physical effects of the use of alcohol and other drugs are well documented. There is an association between clinically recorded alcohol consumption and psychological and cardiovascular diseases. While moderate alcohol intake every now and then may not be harmful, drinking too much or using drugs may cause:
- Psychological and physical dependence.
- Impulsive decision-making.
- Financial issues.
- Family problems.
- Damage to a close friendship, relationship, or reputation.
- Inability to learn and remember information.
- You to feel tired or have little energy
- Feelings of depression or hopelessness.
- limitations to your growth as a person
Impaired coordination and judgment resulting from the use of alcohol and drugs are associated with DWI/DUI arrests, disorderly conduct, falls and other injuries, and other potentially embarrassing or harmful situations.
Take the First Step: Become More Aware of Your Habits
The point of this post is not to discourage you from participating in social activities and outings – the key is to identify any damaging behavioral patterns and reprogram your approach to alcohol and drug use. By evaluating your behavior regarding alcohol or drugs, you can change the way it affects your life.
This is what our CheckUp & Choices Program is designed to do. It’s a clinically-proven, web-based program that can help you become more mindful of your alcohol or drug use patterns. In multiple trials funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), those who underwent our program displayed a 50% reduction in alcohol-related issues on average.
The CheckUp is a comprehensive test that allows you to take a deeper look into your alcohol usage, and determine whether it’s something that you should reevaluate.
If you decide that you want to quit or moderate your usage, the Choices part of the program will give you proven motivational and cognitive tools to do so. You’ll get 24/7 online access to customized exercises, behavior trackers, automated reminders, and feedback to help you abstain or manage your alcohol or drug consumption.
We offer a solid money-back guarantee that takes the risk out of trying – you have nothing to lose.