How To Help Addicts Stay Safe During This Unprecedented Heatwave And Our Top Hot Weather Life Hacks!


Our climate is continuing to change thanks to global warming, and the heatwave we’re currently experiencing in July of 2022 is proof of this!

Most of us welcome some warm, sunny weather, it can be nice to enjoy the sunshine and science even provides us with evidence that it can improve our mood, energy levels, motivation to make and maintain change, as well as improving our physical bodily functions as well as our general mental well-being.

However, when it’s too hot for too long, there are serious possible health risks that we need to keep in mind. In England alone, there are on average 2000 heat related deaths every single year, and that’s not even taking into consideration the current unprecedented level 3 heatwave we’re all experiencing!

Keep reading to find out how you can stay safe in this weather, how it can negatively impact those with active substance addictions (both drugs and alcohol) and those in recovery, what to watch out for, how you can help yourself and others, and finally but by no means least, our top tips and heatwave heat hacks to keep you cool and comfortable.


Why Is This Heatwave And Others Like It In The Future A Problem?

The 3 main risks posed by a heatwave are:

  1. Not drinking enough water (dehydration).
  2. Overheating, which can make symptoms worse for those people who already have physical or mental health problems.
  3. Heat exhaustion and heatstroke which can be fatal in serious cases.

Who’s Most At Risk?

A heatwave can affect anyone, but the most vulnerable people are:

  • Older people – especially those over 75 years old.
  • Those who live on their own, live in a care home, currently reside in a prison, rehab or detox facility.
  • People who have a serious or long term illnesses – including heart or lung conditions, diabetes, kidney disease, Parkinson’s disease, some mental health conditions and those with an addiction.
  • Those who may find it hard to keep cool including babies and the very young as they don’t sweat to keep cool, the bed bound, those with a drug or alcohol addiction or those with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • People who spend a lot of time outside or in hot, confined or poorly ventilated places, those who live in a top floor flat, the homeless and rough sleeping community, those whose jobs are outside and those who exert themselves during work, commuting or whilst exercising.

General Advice, Top Tips & Life Hacks To Help Everyone Manage Better Hot Weather

  • Look out for those who may struggle to keep themselves cool and hydrated – older people, those with underlying health conditions and those who live alone are particularly at risk.
  • Close curtains or blinds in rooms that face the sun to keep indoor spaces cooler and remember it may be cooler outdoors than indoors in some situations.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, try to avoid caffeine as it will dehydrate you, and avoid keep alcohol consumption to an absolute minimum, ideally no alcohol at all if possible. Keep reading to learn more about this.
  • Never leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle, especially infants, young children or animals.
  • Try to keep out of the sun when it’s hottest and do any tasks, travelling, exercise or socialising when it’s the coolest. It’s normally hottest between 11am to 3pm.
  • Walk in the shade, apply sunscreen regularly, wear a wide brimmed hat and wear light coloured, loose fitting clothing, ideally cotton or another similar breathable material. Consider wearing well-fitting sandals rather than flip-flops to reduce risk of accidents or injury.
  • Avoid exercising or socialising with others outdoors in the hottest parts of the day.
  • Make sure that you take a bottle of cold water, ideally ice water or cold fruit juice with you when going outside, especially if you’re travelling or commuting on public transport.
  • If you’re going into open water, a swimming pool, the sea, river or other body of water to cool down, take care and follow the recommended safety advice.
  • Wash feet regularly to avoid infection, particularly if you wear the same footwear everyday.
  • Eat regular light meals with high water content – salad, fruit, vegetables, cold soup.
  • Keep in touch and informed with family members, friends and watch out and offer to help others who may not be taking proper care of themselves.
  • Turn on the TV or radio to find out weather reports so that you do things at the coolest times of the day.
  • Warm and cool showers can help in this type of weather. Have a look at blog articles on the benefits of warm showers and the benefits of cool showers here.

For more information visit GOV.UK: Heatwave Plan for England.

If you have concerns about an uncomfortably hot house that’s affecting your health or someone else’s, get medical advice from your GP surgery or citizen’s advice bureau.

You can also get help from the environmental health office at your local authority. They can inspect a home for hazards to health, including excess heat and help to provide you with the right advice, equipment or solutions for your individual needs and circumstances.

Want to learn more about the science behind keeping cool in a heatwave. Check out the article here.


Drugs, Alcohol & Hot Weather

In the UK, we’re seeing more frequent bouts of severe adverse weather. Extreme hot weather is an average temperature of 30°C+ by day and 15°C+ overnight. It can be unpredictable and can severely impact your life, addiction and recovery.
If you take drugs and/or alcohol, or you’re dependent on either, you need to take extra care of your health and wellbeing in hot weather, especially during heatwaves like the one we’re currently experiencing. One way to adapt to climate change is to know how to look after yourself and others in the heat.


Addiction Specific Advice & Top Tips

Your health comes first. Drug and alcohol use in extreme heat increases the risk of dehydration, overheating, accidents, injuries, adverse drug reactions, overdoses and accidental deaths. If you can safely reduce your substance use, do so with professional help, advice, monitoring and support.

If you are dependent on drugs and/or alcohol (particularly opiates or benzodiazepines), DO NOT
stop taking drugs suddenly without medical support and advice. Stay out of the heat and direct sunlight, particularly after taking drugs. Always contact your GP, keyworker or local drug and alcohol service if you
feel mentally or physically unwell. You can find your local drug and alcohol service on our website here.

Drugs and extreme heat have a lot in common in terms of effects on the body and mind, including: dehydration, dizziness, headaches, changes to breathing, changes to heart rate and blood pressure, nausea, vomiting or cramps.

  • If you are dehydrated, the effects of drugs and alcohol will be more severe – take in cool non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated fluids such as water or fruit juice.
  • DO NOT drink very large quantities of water too quickly to rehydrate – little and often is best, regularly throughout the day and night.
  • Check storage conditions for prescribed medications. Many medications advise you to avoid direct sunlight and hot spaces. Avoid storing your medication close to your body, in cars or where others may accidentally mistake your medication for a normal drink, especially those who’re young, vulnerable or don’t understand. REMEMBER – YOU ARE ENTITLED TO A FREE SAFETY LOCK BOX FROM YOUR PRESCRIBER IF YOU EVER KEEP DOSES AT HOME, FOR EXAMPLE SUNDAY DOSES IF YOUR PRESCRIBER IS CLOSED ON SUNDAYS AND WHERE OTHERS MAY HAVE ACCESS TO IT. If you have children or vulnerable people around you, get one now today, they save lives!
  • If the extreme heat stops you getting to and from addiction recovery groups, appointments or fellowship meetings, call peers or your addiction key-worker or professional for support and advice.
  • If you can’t avoid going out in the extreme heat or during the hottest times of the day, stick to shaded, cool and well ventilated areas.
  • Take a refillable bottle of cold water or juice with you to keep hydrated and assist with taking your prescribed medication. If you feel hot, seek out cool or air-conditioned spaces to cool down, rest and rehydrate. TAKE YOUR TIME!
  • Don’t go swimming to cool down after taking drugs or drinking alcohol – the risk of drowning or getting into trouble is much higher while under the influence of substances.
  • Warm and cool showers can help in this type of weather. Have a look at blog articles on the benefits of warm showers and the benefits of cool showers here.
  • Money matters. Keep an emergency fund for extreme hot weather for a taxis, drinks or whatever else you may need to avoid the direct heat and to stay cool and hydrated.
  • Reduce your spend on drugs in extreme heat to pay for food, non-alcoholic drinks, clothes, electricity, gas and phone.
  • Dress to keep cool. Light coloured, loose fitting cotton clothing is often best. Consider wearing well-fitting sandals rather than flip-flops to reduce risk of accidents or injury.
  • Keep cool indoors. Pull blinds or curtains down on sun-facing windows to keep rooms cooler.
  • If it’s safe, open windows when it cools down to ventilate.
  • Keep a spray bottle of water in the fridge to cool your face and body if you get too hot or become unwell from the heat.
  • If you have to go out, wear sunscreen.
  • If you have taken drugs, cool down by wiping a cool wet cloth / sponge against your skin.
  • Take care operating electric fans while intoxicated.
  • Wash feet regularly to avoid infection, particularly if you wear the same footwear everyday.
  • Eat regular light meals with high water content – salad, fruit, vegetables, cold soup.
  • If your drug/alcohol use varies across the day, make and consume food and non-alcoholic fluids at the best times for you – it’s better to eat and drink when it suits you than not all, even if it’s not at the conventional/traditional times of the day or night.
  • Keep in touch and informed with family members, clean and sober friends and watch out and offer to help others who may not be taking proper care of themselves. Addicts often neglect their own physical health, mental health and personal hygiene so it’s important to look after ourselves and others where possible and appropriate.
  • Keep in regular contact with support workers and addiction professionals who can help, monitor and support you during these tough times.
  • Turn on the TV or radio to find out weather reports so that you do things at the coolest times of the day.
  • Find out about ways to keep cool yet connected with others by speaking to your local community/faith groups to see what’s on offer or happening locally.

Can you think of anyone who may need or benefit from a supportive phone/video call or text message? Remember a quick “how are you?” And to let them know you’re thinking of them can go a long way for someone feeling isolated, lonely, sad or unwell.

Daniel R – Drink ‘n’ Drugs Psychotherapist

Methadone/Subutex & Daily Supervised Consumption Prescriptions

If you’re on a daily supervised consumption
prescription and the extreme heat is affecting your ability to access your medication, speak immediately to your prescriber or support worker.


Tips For Homeless/Rough Sleeping Community Members

  • If you’re homeless or sleeping rough, DO NOT sit out or sleep in direct sun. Seek out shade or go indoors. Take care of your dog if you have one with you as they suffer just as much as we do, if not more so. Keep them cool, shaded, fed, hydrated, out of direct sunshine and even consider trimming the fur short of longer, thicker haired breeds to keep them from overheating. DO NOT SHUT THEM IN CARS OR CONFINED SPACES WHERE THEY CAN OVERHEAT AND DIE WITHIN MINUTES!
  • Find sources of clean water to drink at community facilities and shelters. Take extra care with food you are given or you find – food spoils much faster in hotter weather and can make you unwell.

Top Hot Weather Life Hacks To Keep You Cool & Comfortable

Here’s some of our top hot weather life hacks to keep you cool and comfortable until the heat dies back down again. We hope they help you as much as they do for us!


Quick Recap!


Want More Like This!?…

Published by Drink ’n’ Drugs

Providing useful, relevant, up to date information and support for those suffering from active addiction or those who are in recovery.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: