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Teen drug use increases during summer season

Study by US health officials warn against first-time exposure

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Posted: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 11:48 am, Fri Apr 5, 2013.

First-time smoking of cigarettes and marijuana and drinking of alcohol among young adults are highest during the summer, according to U.S. health officials.

On an average June or July day, more than 5,000 young adults smoke cigarettes for the first time, compared to about 3,000-4,000 in the other months. Additionally, more than 11,000 teens try alcohol for the first time during the summer, while first-time alcohol use during the rest of the year is about 5,000-8,000 occurrences.

Published by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the study’s findings are based on interviews from more than 230,000 young adults from 2002 to 2012.

The only other month in which first-time use with substances is at high levels similar to the summer is December.

“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,” Pamela S. Hyde, administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, said in a press release.

Dr. H. Westley Clark, director of the administration’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, said the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a “Smart Summer” campaign, which encourages parents to be knowledgeable of these statistics and help prevent their children from using substances by monitoring their activities.

While first-time use for alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, hallucinogens and inhalants rises during the summer, the study found no significant increase among cocaine and prescription pain drugs.

“You should have an open dialogue with your children in terms of what they’re doing and about alcohol and drugs,” Bruce Goldman, director of substance abuse services at Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y., said in the press release. “The longer you can delay adolescents from experimenting with alcohol and drugs, the better their chances of not developing problems later in life. It’s critical that parents be alert.”

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