More teens start drinking and smoking cigarettes and marijuana in June and July than in any other months, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration said in a new report.
The report states that on an average day in June and July, more than 11,000 teens ages 12 to 17 use alcohol for the first time – December is the only other month with comparable levels. Throughout the rest of the year, the daily average for first-time alcohol use ranges from 5,000 to 8,000 adolescents.
Similarly in June and July, an average of 5,000 youth smoke cigarettes for the first time, as opposed to the daily average of about 3,000 to 4,000 during the rest of the year. The same pattern holds true for first time use of cigars and smokeless tobacco among youth. In terms of first-time use of marijuana, more than 4,500 youth start using it on an average day in June and July, as opposed to about 3,000 to 4,000 youth during the other months.
“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,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde said in a news release. “That is why it is critically important to take every opportunity we can throughout the year to talk to our young people about the real risks of substance abuse and effective measures for avoiding it, so they will be informed and capable of making the right decisions on their own.”
The report, “Monthly Variation in Substance Use Initiation among Adolescents,” is based on SAMHSA’s 2002 to 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports involving interviews with 231,500 adolescents between the ages of 12 to 17.
At graduation and prom time, many coalitions host events to ensure teens celebrate these occasions and the summer, itself, safely, such as the Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Alexandria’s “All Night Drug and Alcohol Free Graduation Party” for high school seniors. Since their high school began the tradition in 1989, there have been no drug or alcohol-related graduation night fatalities, according to Noraine Buttar, SAPCA’s coordinator.