The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), a government sponsored study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), found that teens were more like to try new substances for the first time during June and July. The study surveyed teens between the ages of 12 and 17 who reported trying a new substance within the previous year.
The average daily rates for first-time alcohol use range from 5,000-8,000 and 3,000- 4,000 for first-time cigarette and marijuana use. On an average day in June and July, first time alcohol users alone can reach up to approximately 11,000. In addition, during those two summer months, an average of 4,500 young adults sample cigarettes for the first time and 5,000 teens begin using marijuana.
While there are several possible reasons as to why this jump in first-time substance users occurs in the summer, the most likely are that adolescents have a sudden increase in their free time as well as less adult supervision and responsibilities that are present during the school year.
According to the authors of the study, this spike in young adults trying substances for the first time makes clear the need for increased efforts to discourage young adults from trying new substances during the summertime. Strategies to combat teens trying new substances could include intensifying public service announcements and media campaigns targeting teens as well as promoting activities to provide drug-free alternatives, especially in areas with few prevention resources. In addition to anti-drug programs, this data points out the need for law enforcement to crack down on establishments providing tobacco and alcohol to underage users.
Check out SAMHSA’s prevention page for tips and resources to help stop underage substance use and abuse.
Melany Boulton is a digital communications intern at Prichard Communications, where she assists on several accounts, including Reclaiming Futures. She is a recent graduate from the University of Oregon with a degree in public relations and a minor in business administration.
*Photo at top by Flickr user mlball10
Updated: February 08 2018