What Time Of Year Are People Likely To First Try Drugs? Summer, Survey Says
NOEL KING, HOST:
All right. It is summertime - time for vacations, barbecues and parties. But a new study finds that summer is also associated with a health risk. It's when people are more likely to try new drugs. NPR's Rhitu Chatterjee has the story.
RHITU CHATTERJEE, BYLINE: Researchers used data from the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which asks people a range of questions on their drug use habits, including what time of year they first tried a drug. The drugs in the study were cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and LSD. Katherine Keyes is at Columbia University and an author of the new study.
KATHERINE KEYES: Over a third of LSD use and over a quarter of cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy use are first used during summer months in the U.S.
CHATTERJEE: That doesn't surprise Abigail Powell. She directs clinical services at Turning Point, a residential drug and alcohol treatment facility in New Jersey. She says any season that involves more gatherings and celebrations tends to enable drug and alcohol use.
ABIGAIL POWELL: When there's more partying or binge drinking, from that point comes less inhibitions and an increase in other drug use.
CHATTERJEE: Previous studies show that drug and alcohol use in general go up during the summer. More people end up in ERs due to intoxication. And Powell it's also when more existing users show up at her outpatient center.
POWELL: There is an uptick in relapse, even of people who are attempting to remain abstinent or to cut down on their use.
CHATTERJEE: The findings of the new study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, are especially important for younger people, says Scott Hadland.
SCOTT HADLAND: Adolescents and young adulthood are particularly times that people first start using substances.
CHATTERJEE: Hadland is a pediatrician and addiction specialist at Boston Medical Center's Grayken Center for Addiction. He says parents of teenagers need to be extra vigilant during summers. They can start by...
HADLAND: Understanding where teenagers are, who they're spending time with, where they're physically located, what they're doing when they're away from the home.
CHATTERJEE: Hadland says it's best to prevent teenagers from starting to use drugs in the first place. Studies show that the earlier someone starts using a substance, the higher their chances of having a lifelong battle with addiction. Rhitu Chatterjee, NPR News.
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