Blue Monday, the worst day of the year, has come and gone. The third Monday of January – this year the 16th – passed by with its dreaded post-holiday blues and cold and dreary weather. Due to a combination of factors, this specific day is seen as the worst of every year. But why is this the case? Not only that, does drug consumption increase during this day? If many people self-medicate with substances during hard times, then it is sensical to assume that Monday 16th January 2023 would have had a rise in drug use. In this article we’re going to find out where there is any link between substances and blue Monday. Well done for getting through yet another one.
What is Blue Monday?
Blue Monday is the name given to the third Monday of January that is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year in the UK. However, it is also thought to be the same in many other countries. There are a plethora of reasons for this, and one of them is the weather. Therefore it’s unlikely that Australians experience the same thing – especially with it being usually around 25 degrees in January for them.
The origins of Blue Monday can be traced back to a press release issued by a UK travel company in 2005. The press release claimed that Blue Monday was the “most depressing day of the year” and cited a formula that took into account factors such as weather, debt, time since Christmas, time since failing our New Year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and the feeling of a need to take action.
The press release was based on a study conducted by Dr. Cliff Arnall, a researcher at the University of Cardiff in Wales. Dr. Arnall’s formula was intended to be a tongue-in-cheek representation of the various factors that could contribute to feelings of depression and hopelessness in January. However, the press release was widely reported in the media, and the term ‘Blue Monday’ quickly became associated with feelings of depression and sadness.
Why is it Caused?
There was evidently more truth to the press release than they realised. It’s important to note that, despite the origins of Blue Monday as a PR stunt, it is true that January can be a difficult month for some people. After the excitement and joy of the holiday season, many people feel a sense of disappointment and sadness as they return to their normal routine.
This can be especially difficult for those who were looking forward to the holidays as a way to escape from their daily stressors. On the other hand, the holiday season can be a time of joy and celebration, but it can also be a time of stress and financial strain. Christmas is not always how Hollywood and Love Actually likes to present. You are forced to see estranged family members and to spend a lot of money.
Additionally, the post-holiday letdown can be exacerbated by the fact that many people have set New Year’s resolutions, which can be hard to keep, leading to feelings of failure and disappointment. The weather is also a massive factor. Going from a magical Christmas aesthetic – where the cold feels warranted – to a cold dreary January is horrible for many people. Seasonal depression isn’t a joke, it affects 10 million Americans every year.
Who Suffers from Blue Monday?
When New Order, a famous UK band that was once named Joy Division, brought out their song Blue Monday, this was proof that the world believed in this concept. Although, Blue Monday can also refer to any Monday that is difficult. MDMA comedowns can often strike on this day after a messy weekend. A case study on South Korean deaths found that:
“The probability of suicide on each day of the week according to age group was calculated. A total of 377,204 deaths (188,601 suicides and 188,603 accidental deaths) were used. The frequency of suicide was highest on Monday and decreased throughout the week until Saturday.”
Suicide is also more common in January. So when you combine the third Monday of the year with the first month of the year, you may quite literally get a deadly combination. The reason why the first two Mondays may be less so is because these still perhaps have a fresh and optimistic feeling. It usually takes around two weeks for people to give up on their New Year’s resolutions. Blue Monday certainly affects a lot of people and it is then not surprising that these people may turn to drugs to get through it.
So if we’ve established the reality of Blue Monday as a concept and its genuine affect on a percentage of people. For you it may just be a day that passes by slowly with only a tinge of sadness, for others it may be a great deal worse. Whatever you feel, Blue Monday does often make itself known – lightly or heavily. One theory is that Blue Monday, which is often associated with post-holiday blues, cold and dreary weather, and the end of the festive season, can lead to an increase in feelings of depression and hopelessness.
This, in turn, could lead some people to turn to drugs as a way to cope with these feelings. It wouldn’t be surprising if that was the case, especially as recreational drugs are commonly utilised for their euphoric or dissociating effects. Uppers – such as cocaine or MDMA – if used correctly would certainly take the pain away intermittently and replace it with happiness. Downers – such as ketamine or cannabis – would also help in dissociating and relaxing the individual. It is obvious why someone may consume drugs on the grimmest day of the year.
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However, it’s also important to remember that Monday is a working day. Taking drugs at work is not exactly common, and the chance of making Tuesday even worse through a comedown is also probably not a very good idea.
Blue Monday & Drugs
As it stands, there is no scientific evidence that supports the claim that people take more drugs on Blue Monday. Studies on drug use patterns and trends tend to focus on specific substances and populations, rather than on specific days of the year. Therefore, it is difficult to draw any definitive conclusions about whether people take more drugs on this specific day.
All the research that we have is really just word-of-mouth. This is also because Blue Monday is still not yet exactly a scientifically proven phenomenon, despite much of the world acknowledging it. The conclusions that we can make however is that this day is a hard one, and will probably lead to those who are aware of it to take precautions.
These precautions might consist of a bottle of wine with a friend, they might consist of a self-care day, they might consist of an ecstasy pill, they might consist of a gram of cocaine or cannabis, they might consist of anything really. Alcohol may be more likely as this is a legal drug that is often drunk on Mondays. In fact, a glass of wine on a Monday is the office-job stereotype for a reason; helping people get through the beginning of the week. Perhaps the drug that is consumed more on Blue Monday is simply alcohol.
Whilst there will be many newspapers and articles this year ‘debunking’ the myth of Blue Monday, it certainly is real to some people and that cannot be debunked. Of course there’s nothing ‘bluer’ than the 16th January 2023 than any other day of the year, intrinsically it is just a day like any other. But what it means to people is real and when you combine it with the weather, post-christmas blues, and a dreaded start to the new year, it can have a serious impact on certain individuals.
Thus, whilst there is a lack of research, it would not be surprising if drug use did increase on this specific day. At least in comparison with other Mondays throughout the year. Although, again, perhaps during summer and bank holidays an increase in drug use at the start of the week may also increase. In a way, it’s quite a hard study to really enact. Nonetheless, if you’re someone that struggled with Blue Monday this year, give yourself a pat on the back for getting through it, and don’t judge yourself for how you did that. There are plenty more to come after all.
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