A recent survey finds that with more idle time and less adult supervision, significantly more teens try alcohol, smoking and drugs for the first time in the summer than at any other time of year,
Teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 are more likely to try drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes or marijuana, or using hallucinogens for the first time during the months of June and July than at any other time during the year, according to research conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
During the other 10 months of the year, between 3,000 and 4,000 teenagers begin smoking each day. In June and July, that number spikes to an estimated 5,000 teens per day. The study also found that more than 11,000 teens drink alcohol for the first time in June and July, compared to 5,000-8,000 trying it for the first time each month during the rest of the year.
In a press release on Tuesday, SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde explained:
“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. 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 data comes at a time when a greater number of teens may find themselves jobless and with extra free time -- according to US Bureau of Labor statistics, fewer than three in 10 teens have jobs this summer. SAMHSA has created prevention programs specifically tailored to the season to curb the amount of drinking and drug use among teens during the warmer months.
Marijuana use, in particular, may be an increasing concern to parents and law enforcement officials. Last month, a government survey found that for the first time ever, more U.S. teens are smoking marijuana than cigarettes.