We know that crime spikes during the summer, and now we know that teen drug and alcohol consumption do, too.
The recently-released National Survey on Drug Use and Health talked to more than 231,000 youth between 12 and 17 over an eight-year period about their first use of a given substance, including alcohol, tobacco and marijuana, and found that the first-time use of most substances peaks during June and July.
Among its findings:
– On average, more than 11,000 youth tried alcohol for the first time every day in June, July and December; other months average between 5,000 to 8,000 new users per day.
– On average, more than 5,000 youth smoked cigarettes for the first time every day in June or July; other months average between 3,000 to 4,000 new users per day.
– On average, more than 4,800 youth smoked weed for the first time every day in June or July; other months average between 3,000 to 4,000 new users per day.
Besides alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana, first-time use of smokeless tobacco, cigars and hallucinogens also tends to peak during June and July; inhalant use peaks in July.
The report also listed how many teens try a given substance for the first time in one year, then broke that down to a daily average:
– An annual average of 2.9 million teens tried alcohol for the first time within the past year; which makes for about 7,800 new users per day.
– 1.4 million teens tried cigarettes for the first time in the past year, for an average 3,800 new users per day.
– 1.4 million teens smoked weed for the first time in the past year, for an average 3,700 new smokers per day.
– Approximately 900,000 teens used prescription pain relievers recreationally over the past year, for an average 2,500 new users every day.
– About 600,000 teens used inhalants for the first time this past year, which averages out to 1,500 new users per day.
– Around 500,000 teenagers tried hallucinogens for the first time this year, which makes for about 1,400 new users every day.
– Nearly 300,000 teens used cocaine for the first time this year, which makes about 800 new users a day.
Researchers wrote that the summertime peak for many of these substances can be attributed to vacation and working parents: These are the months that "include periods when adolescents are on break from school and may have more idle time, fewer responsibilities, and less adult supervision," they wrote.
“More free time and less adult supervision can make the summertime an exciting time for many young people, but it can also increase the likelihood of exposure to the dangers of substance abuse,” said Pamela Hyde in a statement. Hyde is an administrator with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which administered the survey.
The report's authors suggested intensifying public service announcements during this months, especially ones that focus on "preventing initiation." They also suggested that communities that lack prevention resources implement youth activities that chip away at that idle time.
They concluded by mentioning that parents ought to reinforce "messages about the risks involved with using alcohol and drugs."
You can read the full report here.
Photo by Thai Nguyen via Flickr Creative Commons.