The Dangers of Hot Weather for Addicts

The Dangers of Hot Weather for Addicts

Hot weather poses serious risks for addicts and homeless addicts

Most people do not think of the weather when they are coming up with dangers of addiction, but the environment plays a huge role in drug abuse. An addict’s better judgment is often compromised, which can expose her to the dangers of extreme weather. Furthermore, homelessness is often a result of addiction, which also puts homeless addicts in harm’s way, as they are often unable to find shelter during periods of harsh weather.

Hot weather can be more than disagreeable, as it can be life-threatening. High temperatures and humidity drain the body of water, and continued sweat can quickly lead to dehydration. With elevated body temperatures and dehydration, people may experience fatigue, headaches, increased heart rate, shallow breathing, muscle cramping, fainting, dizziness, weakness, confusion, lethargy, stroke and death. Heat and dehydration can literally shut the body down.

When a person is homeless, he may have no way to avoid high temperatures and humidity. Additionally, an addict’s health is already compromised, so adding dehydration and other effects of over-heating to the mix can quickly escalate to serious complications, even death. Excessive drug use can impair one’s ability to judge body temperatures. Furthermore, several drugs are diuretics, or substances that promote dehydration. Certain substances amplify the risks of dehydration, dilute blood vessels and make individuals prone to fainting, passing out and other problems of heat exhaustion.

When people are under the heavy influence of drugs or alcohol, they are less aware of the warnings of excessive heat and humidity. They are more inclined to put themselves in dangerous situations, such as exercising in extreme conditions, falling asleep in a vehicle or staying home without open windows or air conditioning.

Can Warm Weather Trigger Addictive Tendencies and Relapse?

Another issue regarding hot weather and addiction is how it may trigger relapse. Warm temperatures can be problematic for people on the verge of addiction and those in recovery because of what the heat is often associated with. People tend to think of vacationing and leisure time when the weather is warm and sunny: from days in the pool to evenings on the porch, people may associate warmth with drinking. In this light, recovering addicts should avoid addictive behaviors when they face warmer weather.

How to Respond to Signs of Heat Exhaustion

When signs of heat exhaustion appear, deal with them immediately, because they can quickly escalate to heat stroke and other dangerous complications. Individuals should seek shade or shelter and find some place to rest. Drinking water is best, and people should avoid alcohol and drugs at all costs, because they can exacerbate dehydration. Remove extra clothing, find air-conditioned locations and drink water to ward off dangerous body temperatures. For people that are homeless, plenty of places offer shelter from the heat, including churches, homeless shelters, hospitals and government agencies.

Find Help for Substance Abuse and Addiction

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, we can help. If you are ready to find recovery, then please call our toll-free helpline so one of our admissions coordinators can assist your search for treatment. Whether you have questions or need information, our staff are happy to help.

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