Summer Is Key Time to Step Up Prevention Efforts
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), July is a peak month for teens to try drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes for the for the first time. Summer, therefore, is considered a “heightened risk” time for substance use initiation.
According to the national survey:
- On an average day in June, July, or December, more than 11,000 youths used alcohol for the first time; in other months, the daily average ranged from about 5,000 to 8,000 new users per day.
- On an average day in June or July, more than 5,000 youths smoked cigarettes for the first time; in other months, the daily average ranged from about 3,000 to 4,000 new users per day.
- On an average day in June or July, more than 4,800 youths used marijuana for the first time, whereas the daily average ranged from about 3,000 to 4,000 in other months.
Although initiation of substance use can occur at any time, findings in this report indicate that first-time use of many substances (e.g., alcohol, tobacco products, and marijuana) peaked during the months of June and July. These months include periods when adolescents are on break from school and may have more idle time, fewer responsibilities, and less adult supervision. First use of other substances (e.g., nonmedical use of prescription-type stimulants and sedatives), however, remained relatively constant over the course of a year.
A number of implications can be drawn from these report findings. First, although ongoing public service announcements (PSAs) and media campaigns targeting adolescents are important for deterring youth alcohol and drug use in general, intensifying these efforts during June and July may amplify their impact; messages focusing on preventing initiation may be particularly important during these months. Second, in communities with limited prevention resources, the findings may point toward critical opportunities during the summer to implement activities and events that are attractive alternatives to drug use initiation or continued use. Third, the law enforcement community may find that targeted efforts toward preventing tobacco and alcohol sales to minors are more effective during these particular months. Finally, these findings underscore the importance of parents and caregivers reinforcing messages about the risks involved with using alcohol and drugs to their children year-round, while consistently restricting access to these substances.Read More