According to results of a new study led by a team of researchers at the NYU School of Medicine, the summer season offers a more conducive period for American teenagers and adults to initiate the use of recreational and illegal drugs for the first time.
According to the results, in 2017, more than 3 million people had tried LSD, cocaine, marijuana and ecstasy for the first time. Out of these, over a third i.e. about 34% of recent LSD usage were first consumed during the summer. Moreover, marijuana was consumed about 30% and 30% of ecstasy, also known as MDMA or Molly was consumed, in addition to 28% of cocaine.
“First-time users may be unfamiliar with the effects of various drugs, so it is important to first understand when people are most likely to start these behaviors,” reported Joseph J. Palamar, associate professor at the Department of Population Health at NYU School of Medicine.
The reason for the first time consumption of drugs during the summer could be attributed to the fact that people have extra recreational time during that season. The prominence of outdoor activities, such as music festivals, where recreational drugs are commonly used also increases.
As a result, experts recommend that users need to become more educated about the drugs and about their obvious side effects. Moreover, Palamar also suggests that first time users take the drugs among company of trusted friends, and in order to avoid dehydration and other serious outcomes such as heat stroke, drinking of enough fluids and rest was especially stressed upon.
Further research in the study will explore particular situations during the summer period, especially those when it likely that people will use drugs for the first time. The experts will also need to explore if the use of drugs is planned or unplanned.
“Parents and educators who are concerned about their kids need to educate them year-round about potential risks associated with drug use, but special emphasis appears to be needed before or during summer months when rates of initiation increase,” adds Palamar.
Palamar is also a researcher at the Center for Drug Use and HIV/HCV Research at NYU College of Global Public Health. The research was published on July 23 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. The data for the study was collected from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health between 2011 and 2017. The study involved participation of 394,415 people, aged 12 and older. The findings were based on the users’ consumption of drugs and through a computer assisted interview. Moreover, the users were also asked to record the month and the year when they initiated the use of drugs.