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Do the Seasons Affect Addiction?

Seasons may have a role in substance use patterns. Anecdotally, many people who have addiction issues will tell you winter is hard for them. They may have used drugs a lot more often during the winter season or holidays. Is this only in your head, or is there a science behind it?

Seasonal Affective Disorder’s Role

In the darker months, we’re less likely to be upbeat and cheerful. For one thing, humans get a lot less sun than we used to. Studies show that a lack of Vitamin D can lead to depression. And in the winter, everyone needs a little more Vitamin D.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) also affects as many as 4-6% of the population, according to American Family Physician.  These people experience a “winter depression” almost like clockwork every year when we begin to have less daylight. Their depression subsides when the spring season begins and should be resolved entirely after Daylight Savings Time. Some people who experience SAD also have other mental health disorders. The depression may not go away for them but may lessen during the darker seasons.

Recognizing Depression

People who are depressed may have the following symptoms:

  • Using substances like drugs or alcohol to numb your feelings.
  • Less interest in going out, spending time with others.
  • Just wanting to “be alone.”
  • May take less care about their appearance or neglect their health.
  • Fatigue, or a change in sleep patterns. (Insomnia or sleeping a lot.)
  • Feeling hopeless or helpless.
  • Not talking a lot, being quick to tears when talking.
  • Isolating and not returning phone calls or texts.
  • Eating much more or less than usual.

If you or somebody you know experiences depression during the winter seasons, there’s help available. Many people in sobriety stay sober and strong by treating their mental health and physical health.

People in sobriety often get depressed during the holidays, too. It’s normal to have a feeling of sadness or loss around the holidays. This is especially true for anyone who is newly sober. Many people describe feelings regret or shame during the holidays. Your feelings may be very raw when you’re first sober, but they will pass.

Speaking with a therapist, getting more exercise, and even sitting in front of a sun lamp every morning can help you treat SAD. However, if these methods don’t work, you should ask a medical professional for help.

Getting Help

If you or somebody you know has an alcohol or drug problem, help is available. If you’re coping with a mental health disorder, we’re here to help with that too. Taking care of your body, mind, and spirit is part of the journey of recovery. Give us a call to learn about how we can help at 855-631-2548.


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