Summer is a time for fun in the sun, but according to a new study, it is also when people are more likely to begin experimenting with drugs.
Researchers looked at data from the U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health between 2011 and 2017. There was data from nearly 395,000 people, ages 12 and older. The analysis showed that summertime was when 34% of LSD use, 30% of marijuana use, 30% of ecstasy use, and 28% of cocaine use first began.
The data supported two possible reasons for the high rates of first-time use during the summer months: people had more recreational time and the popularity of outdoor activities such as music festival, where recreational drug use is common. When looking at the drugs that were first tried during the summer, it supports this theory.
There is still more research needed though. Researchers still want to know about the specific situations surrounding the first-time use, such as the degree of use and whether it was planned or unplanned.
The senior investigator Joseph Palamar, who is an associate professor in the Department of Population Health at NYU School of Medicine in New York City stated, “First-time users may be unfamiliar with the effects of various drugs, so it is important to first understand when people are most likely to start these behaviors.”
In 2017, more than 3 million people in the U.S. tried LSD, marijuana, cocaine, or ecstasy for the first time. For those who do plan on experimenting, they should educate themselves about the drugs and potential side effects. It’s also important to be around people you trust and in a safe environment. Heat can play a serious role in the summer, so individuals should be sure to drink fluids and rest to avoid issues such as exhaustion, dehydration, and heatstroke.
“Parents and educators who are concerned about their kids need to educate them year-round about potential risks associated with drug use, but special emphasis appears to be needed before or during summer months when rates of initiation increase,” said Palamar.
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