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Is There a Link Between Bad Weather and Addiction?

It’s not uncommon to feel a little under the weather during the winter months of the year when the days are shorter and warm sunlight feels like a fleeting memory. There is an established link between winter weather and seasonal affective disorder (aptly abbreviated as SAD), but is there a link between gloomy weather and substance abuse?

Drug and alcohol addiction affects people all over the world, from cloudy London to sunny Riverside, California. And drug rehab centers across the country see similar numbers of patients, no matter the climate. So does dreary weather really have an effect on addiction? After all, the high rates of opioid abuse in the Southwestern United States would say otherwise.

Substance abuse can affect people from all walks of life — and all climates. Gloomy weather can have an adverse effect on our mental health, which in turn can be a contributing factor in a drug or alcohol addiction. Besides SAD in the wintertime, people are more likely to experience depression when they live in a very cloudy or rainy environment. Unhappy moods are also more likely to occur on cloudy days, while people tend to feel happier when they are in a sunny environment such as Riverside.

Persons who are suffering from a mental health disorder are more prone to substance abuse than their mentally-healthy peers and make up the majority of inpatients at drug and alcohol rehab centers. If cold weather and lack of sunlight contribute to poor mental health, it could contribute to addiction.

On the flip side, studies have shown that sunny climates such as Riverside have a reduced incidence of ADHD — attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. ADHD and drug and alcohol addiction are closely linked; persons with ADHD tend to be more impulsive and are more prone to substance abuse.

While the research on the subject is certainly lacking, poor weather does seem to have an effect on addiction, albeit indirectly. In order to best recover from an addiction, enroll in one of California’s many drug rehab centers and help break the habit with some serious vitamin D.