Have you ever wondered if your geographic location may influence trends in addiction such as people being more likely to do drugs or drink too much alcohol? Some cities may gain a reputation for having a lot of meth labs, while other cities may gain a reputation for having a lot of heavy drinkers. And in many rural communities, it is said that there’s nothing else for the kids to do there but get drunk or high.
What about the time of year? Do you just want to stay indoors in the winter and keep warm with a bottle of scotch? Or escape the heat – and everything else – by shooting up in the summer? Do those things play a factor as well?A number of government studies and reports from rehabilitation centers suggest that seasonality and geographic patterns not only influence drug use, but also rehab initiation. It’s important to remember that there are additional factors that play into someone’s substance abuse tendencies, but looking at geographic and seasonal trends in addiction is an insightful way to understand drug and alcohol use patterns in yourself, others, and your community.
Trends in Addiction and Rehab by Region
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) conducted a national survey in 2011 and found that among people age 12 or older, 10.5% of the West Coast population, 9.2% of the Northeast, 8.5% of the Midwest, and 7.5% of the South reported using an illicit drug in the past month (SAMHSA). Actual rates may be somewhat higher as some survey-takers may have been reluctant to admit to using drugs.
Trends in Addiction and Rehab by Area
The SAMHSA survey also found that the rate of illicit drug use among people 12 or older is higher in more populated areas with 9.2% in large metropolitan areas, 8.7% in small metropolitan areas, and 7.2% across nonmetropolitan counties. These nonmetropolitan areas were further broken down to reveal some interesting trends in addiction and rehab: that illegal drug use rates are higher, 8.5% in urbanized counties, 6.3% in less urbanized counties, and 5.7% in completely rural counties.
While small cities and rural areas may appear to have relatively little substance abuse, they have higher rates of binge drinking, heavy alcohol use, tobacco use, inhalants, and illicit pharmaceuticals (prescription drugs) than in larger cities (). While studies have shown that more residents of small cities and rural areas tend to disapprove of illegal drug use, they are less likely to disapprove of the problematic use of legal drugs such as alcohol, suggesting that it’s the type of drug rather than the level of use that matters more in these non-metropolitan areas.
Trends in Addiction and Rehab by Season
A study at Rutgers University found that the biggest month for alcohol use is December, which seems predictable, considering the emphasis of alcohol in many people’s holiday celebrations. However, the study also found that with December excluded, the peak months for alcohol use were in the summer (Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs).
Why is the summer such a popular time for alcohol consumption? A spokesperson for a popular rehabilitation center in Thailand suggests that people tend to party through the summer, but begin realizing that they have a problem when summer ends and check themselves into rehab in the fall or winter. This theory seems to line up with the data from the spokesperson’s rehab center, where peak months are August through December (CNN).
As mentioned earlier, it’s important to remember that seasonality and geographic patterns aren’t the only factors that contribute to trends in addiction and rehab, and they may not be the reason that people become addicts, but there does seem to be an influence or correlation.
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