In The Summertime
The recent heatwave is reminiscent of fabled summers from the 1970’s, it has more than compensated for the ‘Beast from the East’ earlier this year.
People can be heard saying, “oh it’s roasting!” Followed by a hastily added, “Not complaining!” As if any expression of discontent may prompt the end of summer. On the whole people look glowing and happy, there is the exception of farmers whose yield are affected by parched and yellowing fields.
Just as we are often completely unprepared and ill equipped for snow, equally, the sun presents challenges and incites changes in common behaviour.
Irrespective of commitments there is an innate need within us to maximise exposure to the sun. There is an inextricable association with sunshine and being on holiday or down time. This does not necessarily equate to a trip away but it definitely prompts feelings of resistance and resentment when fulfilling daily commitments and duties.
Significant changes to regular patterns are drinking and associated habits, throw into the mix the World Cup, win, lose or draw, drinking is amplified.
There is a definite shift in mindset about attitudes to drinking when the sun is shining. It is my belief that summertime prompts more cravings and triggers to drink than Christmastime. Daytime drinking is deemed acceptable, this is evident when passing bars and cafes with outdoor seating. Annual leave is often booked during the summer months which allows catch ups with friends and the inevitable long boozy lunches. Trips to the countryside and visits to country pubs are popular, as is, having the odd drink over the limit mistakenly feeling confident that lunch will “soak it up.”
Barbecues and football instigate an increase in home drinking. In addition to amounts and frequency of drinking escalating, drinks of choice tend to alter. There is a lean towards drinks that promote the illusion of being thirst quenching, lagers, fruit ciders, white wines, G & T’s and not forgetting cocktails.
The combination of drinking and sunshine can result in the perils of dehydration or nodding off and being burnt to a crisp.
Holidays abroad tend to signify that standard rules do not apply. Going on holiday is often to experience a different way of living and being, a break from the norm. This extends to drinking levels, it can be unusual to experience a dry day when away. All inclusive packages instil a compulsion to drink until saturation point, all in the name of value for money.
Nowadays people are much more health conscious and aware of the impact of regular alcohol use on their long term physical wellbeing. However, it appears that physically active people merely increase their outdoor pursuits in the belief it will offset their rise in drinking habits.
Festival season has arrived where alcohol use and substances of all shapes and sizes are not just readily available but part and parcel of the experience. People who would generally avoid illicit substances may use drugs in a festival setting as they may not be as accessible in ‘normal life.’ For some people, using substances can be reminiscent and reflective of historical, recreational drug use or a rebellion against their adulthood and responsibilities. For others, who would not ordinarily consider using drugs, are disinhibited by alcohol and are swept along with the atmosphere. The overriding ethos is, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” A festival setting is perceived as carefree and an opt out of ordinary circumstances, which is why they are so popular to a cross section of ages.
There are strong associations with certain people and places, it would be unusual to elect to take a hallucinogenic substance or drink a Pina Colada prior to settling down to Christmas lunch.
Humans are adeptly skilled at orchestrating situations to justify actions and behaviours. When craving alcohol and feeling uncomfortable about drinking alone, seemingly innocent plans for a spontaneous gathering at a pub or home often materialise to facilitate a binge drinking episode.
It is presumed that people who access therapy or treatment for drinking are dyed in the wool drinkers who imbibe 24/7. This couldn’t be further from the truth, generally people present who are concerned that their drinking has crept up and has caused some problems socially, at home or at work.
For people in recovery from an alcohol dependency, sunny days often trigger euphoric recall of beer gardens and social, happy drinking. This is a particularly challenging time and the hideous experiences that accompany addiction can become hazy and ignored in the belief that drinking with a different mindset and setting will result in a different outcome.
The difficulty in forming new habits and behaviours that are integral to daily routines can mean that they may not stop when the rain comes…