Summer Days and the Dangers of Alcohol


Summertime is all about outdoor BBQ’s, lounging by the pool, being out in the sun by the beach or at the lake, hanging out with family or friends…all with a cool drink in your hands. A lot of people think about and consume beer, canned or fresh cocktails, spritzers, hard seltzers, hard teas and lemonades, and wine coolers. There are unlimited options and advertisers do their best to convince you these drinks are “cooling”, “refreshing” and/or “relaxing.” What could possibly be better? 

However, combining the summer heat and alcohol can be dangerous. It can lead to anything ranging from a really bad day to a downright deadly one if you don’t understand how summer and alcohol mix. 

Summer heat is the first danger to be alert to. Most people are not drinking any or enough water to stay safely hydrated. When someone is not hydrated enough, several things start to happen: 

1) You get hot in the heat and begin to sweat, which is totally normal. This is how the body cools itself off. But this loss of fluid is a problem if you don’t have fluid going in to make up for what is going out. 

2) You grab an alcoholic drink to hydrate, but alcohol is a diuretic. Basically, it makes you urinate more so in turn, you lose more fluid. 

3) After sweating and urinating, you are more dehydrated than when you started. Add in a little buzz from that beer or other alcoholic drink (or two, or three), and you also don’t particularly care or realize you are dehydrated. 

4) If you happen to vomit for any reason, the fluid loss is even worse. 

5) Every drop of sweat and alcoholic drink is creating a vicious cycle. 

Eventually, your cooling system is going to breakdown in this scenario. Your body only works in a small temperature range. Alcohol can mess up your ability to know that you are in danger. As it gets worse, the warning signs of severe illness can be ignored. Heat stroke can occur which is life threatening and requires immediate emergency medical attention. (The signs of heat stroke are: headache, dizziness, disorientation, confusion, loss of consciousness, hallucinations and seizures). During a heat stroke, your body temperature is high, and your organs are “cooking”. A lot of these symptoms seem like how a drunk person might act so your friends may not notice a problem, especially if they have also been drinking. 

Another summer alcohol danger is the lack of safety awareness that comes with alcohol intake. Otherwise normal summertime activities can become dangerous when alcohol gets mixed in. Alcohol can decrease you gag reflex. Suddenly you can’t clear your airway as well in the water and you can get water in lungs easier and drown. This is compounded when your judgment is impaired and you are less aware of your limits and distance and swim out farther than you should or can’t find your way out of the water because the alcohol has you a bit confused or disoriented. Boating accidents, car accidents, slips, trips, and falls all increase with alcohol leading to injuries as severe as paralysis and death. 

If you are struggling to control your alcohol consumption, please call us at Pathway Healthcare for an assessment and treatment plan. We can help you reduce or completely eliminate your alcohol intake which will lead to better health overall. Thankfully, there are many alternatives to alcohol on the market that actually hydrate the body so you can enjoy the summer heat outdoors safely.

Pathway Healthcare – 844.728.4929 or visit find a location near you.

Author: Shelly Southworth, BSN RN 


The Effects of Summer Heat on Mental Health 

Summer…the sun, the fun, the warmth and the heat. It seems like that’s all you hear as soon as the first snows start to melt. It’s a traditional time for vacations. School is out for families. Flexibility and relaxation are the name of the game.

However, for some people, summer is not fun. Research shows that summer heat is correlated with increased emergency room visits and hospital admissions for mental health issues. So, the question is, why? If summer is so warm and relaxing, why are there so many problems with people’s mental health?

There a lot of different reasons that summer, and the heat that comes with it, can be a big concern for mental health issues. Changes in schedules and routines that come with vacations and school breaks can lead to feeling overwhelmed and out of control, more than usual in some in cases. It can also mean parents have no break from the kids when school is out. Parents can quickly become exhausted. Kids who have lost their routines and structure from school might be anxious and can have more behavior issues.

Additionally, some medications, especially mental health medications, have specific warnings about being in the sun, heat, or fluid consumption to avoid dehydration, as well as warning about not drinking alcohol. This can be a lot to remember and can cause feelings of isolation. It also puts the spotlight on someone’s private health issue. A lot of people feel uncomfortable having to discuss their medical issues with friends and co-workers.

Summer heat also can mean less clothing…shorts, short sleeves and bathing suits. For a person with body image issues, being overweight or underweight, or someone with self-harm scars, this can be literally terrifying. The pressure to be outside and socialize more in the summer can also be very scary for someone with mental health issues. Additionally, if the above issues cause someone to isolate more, it can affect normal routines and make support systems less available. 

Memories of less than ideal childhood summers may also be a problem for a lot of people struggling with mental health issues. Summer is supposed to be a carefree time, at least that is what movies and television want us to believe. But for many, summers took them from the safety of a school environment and put them at home more with abusers, unstable parents, food insecurity, access to drugs and alcohol, and less accountability. People who have not worked through these triggers with professional help may not be aware that summer itself is the trigger of the decline in their mental health.

We can’t avoid summer. It comes every year whether we want it to or not. There can even be a seasonal-type depression associated with summer just like there is with winter. Some of the signs to watch for can include weight loss, minimal appetite, anxiety, irritability or insomnia.

So how can a person cope with the inevitable summer and all that it brings? Do your best to make a summer routine. Even if your normal routine is disrupted for a few months, get a new one started as soon as possible which includes some exercise, outdoor time (early or late in the day when its cooler and out of the direct sun). Drink plenty of hydrating fluids that are not filled with high levels of sugar. Wear cool, loose fitting, cotton clothing. Keep a healthy sleep schedule. Limit or abstain from alcohol consumption. Do not use illicit drugs.

Most importantly, do not isolate. Start a conversation. Talk to your doctor or mental-health professional if you have new or worsening problems with any part of your physical or mental health, including any restrictions your prescriptions might have as it relates to summer activity. NEVER STOP TAKING YOUR MEDICATIONS WITHOUT DISCUSSING WITH YOUR DOCTOR.

At Pathway Healthcare, we have medical doctors, psychiatrists and licensed counselors who care about your well-being. We do our best to help you discover the source of your depression, anxiety, or other mental health condition(s), identify triggers, and find solutions to help you feel better. There is hope.

We have 14 locations in 4 states (Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas) and have appointments available now. Call today 844.728.4929 or visit

Author: Shelly Southworth, BSN RN 


Stivanello, E., Chierzi, F., Marzaroli, P., Zanella, S., Miglio, R., Biavati, P., Perlangeli, V., Berardi, V., Fioritti, 

A., Pandolfi, P. (2020) Mental Health Disorders and Summer Temperature –Related Mortality: A Case Crossover Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(23)9122