Some people find that their use of drugs and alcohol changes with the season. Some students may decrease their drug and alcohol consumption when school starts in the fall. However, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) may actually cause an uptick in depression and drug use in the fall and winter months. This can affect men and women who self-medicate with drugs and alcohol to deal with the symptoms of SAD or other mental health issues. If you are experiencing symptoms of seasonal affective disorder or a substance use disorder, help is available.
At Pines Recovery Life Detox, we help people safely quit drugs and alcohol so they can begin a life of recovery. We also offer dual diagnosis treatment to address and treat mental health disorders to prevent future relapse. So, let us help you work through your depression when the hours of sunlight diminish.
What Is SAD?
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) often affects people during the coldest months of the year. For reasons scientists are still figuring out, some people become depressed when the days begin to shorten. (Although it’s rarer, some people experience similar mood swings in spring and summer.) This type of depression can cause or worsen substance use disorders. Therefore, it’s important to receive professional help in order to avoid self-medicating with drugs or alcohol.
Does Seasonal Affective Disorder Escalate Drug Abuse?
Major depressive disorder is one of the primary symptoms of SAD. However, you may also experience seasonal depression as a result of biochemical reasons. In turn, this can increase seasonal drug use if you don’t receive the help you need. If you have experienced seasonal depression for at least two years in a row, you may have SAD.
Those with SAD have difficulty regulating serotonin, which impacts mood. Additionally, if you have this condition, you may overproduce melatonin, which decreases energy levels. Increasing vitamin D intake through sunlight or supplements may help you adjust to the decrease in sunlight. However, self-medicating with alcohol and drugs will probably only exacerbate your mood swings.
Symptoms of SAD
Some of the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include the following:
- Feeling depressed most of the time, every day
- Loss of interest in hobbies
- Difficulty sleeping
- Changes in weight or appetite
- Difficulty focusing and concentrating
- Extreme low energy
- Social withdrawal
- Suicidal thoughts
People with SAD may have extreme sensitivity to changes in their circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms include behavioral, physical, and mental changes that occur throughout the day in response to sunlight exposure.
Circadian rhythms include getting sleepy at the end of the day in response to changes in the light. During the fall, circadian rhythms become disrupted as the days shorten. Some people are able to adjust to the difference in weather and sunlight, although many experience the winter blues or other seasonal changes. People with seasonal affective disorder may have a hard time adjusting to the decreasing sunlight or time change.
Unfortunately, some of these people may turn to drugs or alcohol to numb their painful depression.
Connection Between Circadian Rhythms and Seasonal Drug Use
Some studies show that those with substance and alcohol use disorders may experience disrupted circadian rhythms. This could be associated with a change in dopamine levels and a subsequent impact on your brain’s pleasure center.
If you have seasonal affective disorder, genetic and environmental disruptions to your sleep/wake cycle can leave you vulnerable to increased substance abuse. Do you have a history of drug and alcohol abuse that spikes in the fall and winter? If so, the therapists at Pines Recovery Life Detox can help you get the counseling you need to overcome SAD.
Treatment programs at our South Florida detox center can include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Light therapy
- Anti-depressant medications
- Dual diagnosis treatment
- Alcohol and drug detox
Also, feel free to take a virtual tour of our Pines Recovery Life Detox facility before speaking with our admissions team.
Begin to Heal with Dual Diagnosis Treatment at Pines Recovery Life Detox
As part of inpatient detox treatment at Pines Recovery Life Detox, we treat both mental health and substance use disorders. If you suffer from seasonal depression, it’s more difficult to resist triggers and cravings in the fall and winter months. Let us work with you to develop the healthy coping mechanisms that will allow you to thrive. Contact us by calling 800.263.3869 or completing our online form to learn more about our services and how we can treat drug addiction in Florida.