While most drug abuse and addiction problems remain continuous throughout the year, some are exacerbated or triggered by changes in seasons or specific events. Individuals suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), for example, are at increased risk for developing a substance abuse disorder as a way of coping with the episodes of depression that occur with this condition. Research also indicates that alcoholics tend to drink with some seasonality, again as a way to cope with the depression that accompanies SAD.
In addition to SAD-related substance abuse, the holiday season (between Thanksgiving and New Year’s in the United States) is the most dangerous time of year for anyone trying to maintain sobriety from an addiction and for those driving on highways. In fact, more alcohol-related traffic fatalities are reported between Thanksgiving and New Year’s than any other time of year. By some estimates, Americans can expect to witness 1,200 alcohol-related traffic fatalities and 25,000 traffic injuries during the holiday season. Additionally, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reports that 52 percent of motor-vehicle fatalities on Christmas Day and 57 percent of motor-vehicle fatalities on New Year’s Eve/Day are directly attributable to alcohol.
In addition to dangerous drug-and-alcohol-related behaviors during the holiday season, various sporting events and other holidays and special occasions including football and basketball games, Halloween, twenty-first birthday parties, and prom nights are associated with higher rates of drug and alcohol use and abuse. Summertime is also associated with a swell in teenage drug use, particularly marijuana use, perhaps because of an increase in leisure time.