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Do More People Start Drugs in the Summer Months?

FILE - A marijuana plant is visible at Compassionate Care Foundation's medical marijuana dispensary in Egg Harbor Township, N.J., March 22, 2019.Ten U.S. states have legalized recreational marijuana.
Do More People Start Drugs in the Summer Months?
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American teenagers and adults may be more likely to try drugs for the first time during the summer months.

That was a finding from a new study. A report on the study was published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

In all, 31% of young people and adults who use the drug cannabis tried it for the first time during the summer, the study found.

Summer was also the starting season for around 30% of people who tried the drugs cocaine, LSD and ecstasy.

Joseph Palamar is a researcher at the New York University School of Medicine and the lead author of the report. “More research is needed” to identify why summer might be a risk factor for people using drugs for the first time, he said.

Palamar added that the link between the season and drug use “may be related to people having more free time and to warmer weather, which is linked with more outdoor social gatherings.”

For the study, researchers examined survey data from over 394,000 people. All of them were 12 years of age and older. The information was collected between 2011 and 2017.

Researchers noted that the study had limitations. One was that people who took the survey may not have remembered exactly when they first tried drugs.

Sharon Levy is the director of the Adolescent Substance Use and Addiction Program at Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts. She was not involved in the study.

“Drug initiation, and drug use happens all year long, with a relatively small bump in the summer,” she said in an email.

While it is important for children to have social time over the summer, parents should not permit activities that they would not allow kids to do during the rest of the year, she wrote.

“I would also recommend that whenever your kids are going to a party or a concert or to spend time out of the house, that you know where they are, who they are with and what they are planning on doing,” she added.

Doctor Levy also suggested that parents should speak very directly with teens before concerts and other events where drug use is common.

Children often fail to understand parents “when they say things like ‘don’t do anything dumb,’” Levy said. “The parent means ‘don’t use alcohol or drugs’ but kids often hear ‘don’t drink too much’ or ‘don’t get into trouble’ which are very different things.”

I’m John Russell.

Lisa Rapaport reported on this story for Reuters. John Russell adapted it story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

author – n. the writer of a book or report

factor – n. something that helps produce or influence a result : one of the things that cause something to happen

initiation – n. the act of starting something : the beginning of something

kid – n. a child

concertn. a musical performance given in public

dumbadj. mindless or foolish

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