12 Apr Don’t Give in to SAD — Sunshine is Almost Here
Many of us living in the Puget Sound area get a little restless this time of year. The rain becomes tiresome, especially if spring is late.
For those struggling with addiction, this can be an especially tough season. The dark, cold, rainy days can trigger a form of depression called seasonally affective disorder, or SAD — and turning to your substance of choice may seem like an easy fix.
Understanding how the weather and changing seasons affect your addiction will help you anticipate the risks. Knowing what to expect is the first step in avoiding a relapse. And don’t feel like you need to fight this alone —help is available every step of the way.
SAD and substance addiction
Also called “winter blues,” SAD is caused by lack of light, which changes the chemistry in our brains. The lower temperature adds insult to the injury because our bodies and the immune system have to work harder to keep up.
Some people are also unable to get good sleep during the winter months, which makes them more irritable and prone to depression.
And then add the nearly constant rain to the mix. That’s less time to be outside and socialize with friends and neighbors, and more time to be bored and look for an energy boost. It’s no wonder our weather has such a bad reputation!
Mood disorders like SAD are common in people who struggle with substance abuse. These disorders can produce cravings, cause social withdrawals and serve as a relapse trigger for people in recovery.
Things you can do to cope:
- Be aware how the season affects you
- Ask a friend or family member to help you through the season by providing support and keeping you accountable
- Avoid any parties that supply alcohol, or any large gatherings that may be stressful
- Have an action plan for how you’ll respond to cravings, stress and boredom
- Talk to your recovery sponsor or partner when you’re feeling the pressures of the season
- The design of e-cigarettes allows them to be used for cannabinoids and other drugs, which means they could facilitate the use of these drugs.
- Attend Olalla’s birthday meetings and hear inspirational stories of how others are beating back the winter blues
It’s important to get professional help from counselors who specialize in substance abuse treatment. Our inpatient program can offer the support you need. And hang in there—sunshine is on its way!