Weekend Is Tipping Point for Addiction Treatment and Overdoses

weekend is the tipping point

For those of us who work in behavioral health to guide, treat and manage addiction treatment programs, we notice peaks and valleys in our calls for admissions. Vacancies are far and few between as there are more people in need of drug or alcohol treatment than there are programs available to help them. For those suffering through withdrawals before the next fix, others who are ready to detox, and still others – the family members of either group who have grown tired of watching their loved one slowly fade away, any day they pick up the phone and start the process towards recovery, in our minds, is a great day. But there’s a flip side to this. The calls we don’t receive. The people who don’t reach out. They might have a glimpse of sobriety but relapse back into old, harmful ways. Some prospective clients we will never meet. Because the weekend is the tipping point for addiction treatment and overdoses.

The Cycle of Heavy Drug or Alcohol Use Has Predictable Stages

Depending on the type of drug used (alcohol included) and the length of time in use, there are times throughout a seven-day week that dictate increased likelihood for use, remorse for use, willingness to admit there’s a problem, openness to seeking help, use and overdose. Much of this pattern is wrapped around the social aspects of addiction. And there are many.


Smack in the middle of the work week, people somewhat sit on their personal ‘fence’. By now, they’re usually over an ill-feeling from the weekend before and their focus is getting through the next two days, and scheduling party plans for the weekend.


More of Wednesday’s behaviors but anxiousness and agitation set in as patience for the approaching weekend wanes. In fact, Thursday is often the day that binge drinkers get a jump on the weekend as bar owners host special events or cocktail discounts to entice more people and volume of product sales. And then there’s the morning after binge drinking.


Do I need to state the obvious? This is the day that haunts the friends and family members of loved ones with substance addiction. Instances of reckless behavior increase on Fridays as people head into the weekend looking for a good time throwing sound decision-making to the curb. As the night grows close, local law enforcement, first responders and hospital emergency rooms ready for the inevitable. DUIs, vehicular accidents and injuries, and the need to use overdose-reversal medications to stop overdosing addicts from meeting the end of their lives.


morning after binge drinking

For the mothers and fathers, siblings and adult children of a drug addict or alcoholic, the early hours of a Saturday morning can be treacherous as they wait for their loved one to arrive back home. He may have taken the car without permission. She may have stolen money from your wallet. Even if the user shows up out of sorts, clutches the porcelain bowl for dear life releasing the toxins from inside or passes out into a deep sleep, they know there is one more day to behold instead of it being the last.

Unfortunately, the pattern from Friday to Saturday can continue. There will be moments that the loved one of an addict will struggle with a myriad of emotions: sadness, anger, guilt, hopelessness and fear. And in the realm of all this negativity can be the light of promise. It is in this light that a moment of hope is born. This is the moment when the first inquiry comes to our intake office through a phone call or email, wondering if we can help. But it’s only Saturday.


Sunday is not so much a fun day for anyone dealing with a person with a substance abuse problem. This day can be a carryover from Friday and/or Saturday but compounded. When the user lives with others or is somehow financially dependent on others, Sunday is the day of enablement. Family and friends will often use this day to ignore what’s happened over the weekend, until life circumstances force them to deal with reality instead. In addition, Sunday also serves as the time where family members urge the user to “get it together” because tomorrow is Monday. But to someone addicted to drugs or alcohol, each day starts to roll into the next.


The beginning of the traditional work week, Monday often proves to be too much after numerous days of use. Enabling behaviors continue as mothers call schools to lie for their sons or daughters absence; and partners call supervisors at work, making excuses for their loved one that “just couldn’t make it into the office today.” After the dust settles and the hangover and withdrawals start to kick in, Tuesday comes. And that’s when miracles happen.


This is the busiest day for rehabs. We refer to Tuesdays as the day of remorse because it lies in that abyss of the addiction cycle. The user feels real crappy. Slivers of what have I done start to present themselves with an inkling of I can’t go on like this anymore. And for the family or friends of someone using, they know this is when transition can happen, putting an end to what was by looking for what could be. Through recovery. This is the day our phone rings the most. This is the day the cries for help are loudest.

Track Your Own Cycle of Addiction and Enabling Behaviors

The above timeline given isn’t a fixed schedule representative of all addicts and the families that surround them. Every person has a different cycle in this tragedy we call the drug epidemic. The days might be different for some, but, without professional help, the outcomes are nonetheless the same.

We’re here when you need us. It doesn’t have to be Tuesday. It doesn’t need to be Sunday morning at 1:47 am. You just have to be ready for the life you deserve. This is THAT day. Get clean. Live sober. Feel wonderful.

Melanie SternAuthored by Melanie Stern, Content Director for Scottsdale Recovery Center, Arizona Addiction Recovery Centers and Cohn Media, LLC. Writer and broadcaster covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment, technology and advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best.