Substance Abuse as a Remedy for Chronic Jet Lag

Substance Abuse as a Remedy for Chronic Jet LagAt some point or another, most people travel across time zones on a leisure or work trip. They are likely to experience jet lag from the change in time and usually recover quickly. Some people, however, cross time zones on a regular basis, resulting in chronic jet lag. When this occurs, many people turn to substance abuse to cope with their jet lag.

What Is Jet Lag and Who Gets It Chronically?

Jet lag is a sleep condition that is caused by travel across time zones. The body maintains something called a circadian rhythm, which is an internal clock regulated by chemicals. The cycle of sunlight plays a key role in maintaining this inner clock, and it can become disrupted by the change in time across time zones. The effects of jet lag are often very disruptive and uncomfortable. Individuals may have excessive daytime fatigue or nighttime restlessness. In addition, jet lag also causes physical problems, including constipation, diarrhea, nausea, sweating, and dizziness. When people experience chronic jet lag, they may also experience confusion, coordination problems, and mild memory loss.

There are many reasons why people regularly travel across time zones, possibly resulting in chronic jet lag. Management consultants, event managers, public accountants, and public relations employees may all be involved in frequent business travel. Likewise, those involved in travel-related careers, such as flight attendants and cruise ship employees, may experience chronic jet lag depending on the direction of travel.

Chronic Jet Lag and Stimulant Drug Abuse

Many people who experience chronic jet lag turn to stimulants as a way of coping with excessive daytime fatigue. Adderall and Ritalin, in particular, are two prescription stimulant drugs that are often used for this reason. These drugs are not typically prescribed to treat jet lag, but many people find that they can acquire them through other people. Both Ritalin and Adderall increase energy and focus, making them very tempting for those suffering from excessive sleepiness in the daytime. Individuals may feel that they can only truly function when these substances are being used. Despite these benefits of Adderall and Ritalin, these drugs can have many side effects and can also lead to addiction.

Chronic Jet Lag and Depressant Drug Abuse

Depressant substances, on the other hand, may be used by those with chronic jet lag as a way to induce sleep. Because many people with chronic jet lag experience insomnia, they may use drugs or alcohol to relax and fall asleep. Alcohol, in particular, is a commonly abused substance for this reason. Many people find that alcohol helps them fall asleep at night. While it certainly has this effect, alcohol can also interfere with the sleep cycle. Even though they may fall asleep easier, they may still wake up feeling exhausted. The same thing occurs with the abuse of depressant medications, such as opioids.

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