When did you try drugs for the first time? Summer seems like the perfect time to be trying something new, one might say even daring. The word “holidays” seems to rhyme with “fun and relaxing times,” usually with friends and family. Summer is a time to enjoy yourself without thinking too much about your responsibilities. Or worrying about potentially negative consequences to your actions. For many, summer may be the perfect season to be try a drug for the first time.
You may even have heard people discussing their first experiences with weed or other recreational substances and psychedelics during summer. Or perhaps you’ve seen movies portraying stereotypical images of teenagers having fun during summer break, getting high together.
Science Backing Perception
Popular culture hasn’t glamorized this stereotype for nothing. Science has confirmed that people do indeed try drugs for the first time mostly during summer.
A study published by NIDA showed that people’s initiation of different drugs was significantly more likely to occur in summer than in other months. Specifically, about one-third of marijuana, cocaine, LSD, and ecstasy use began in summer compared, as opposed to other seasons.
The NIDA researchers theorize that summer offers more idle time. It also offers social activities, including outdoor dance festivals and parties, that increase exposure to drugs. These events all positively influence people into taking drugs.
In an article published by CNN, Dr. Joseph Palamar, Associate Professor of Population Health at the NYU School of Medicine, says that summer brings idle time, especially for young people with little to do. “People aren’t working like crazy,” he says. “[I]f you’re going out, maybe just because of the warmer weather, you might be hanging out with people more.”
According to the professor, more socializing and summer heat can increase the odds of being offered a substance. This can be true specially at summertime events where drugs such as ecstasy (MDMA) are easy to find.
The professor led research at the NYU School of Medicine which found that 34 percent of recent LSD initiates first used the drug in the summer. A similar percentage of marijuana, ecstasy, and cocaine use was found to have begun in summer months.
Part of a Larger Trend
These results correlate with previous studies’ findings that summer is not only when more people use drugs, but also when they wind up in the ER.
Intriguingly, drugs aren’t the only substances which people tend to try for the first time during summer. A recent report published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) revealed that approximately 11,000 teens use alcohol for the first time, and 5,000 try cigarettes, during the months of June and July.
Back in 2012, research showed that on an average day in June or July, more than 11,000 teens, aged 12 to 17, tried alcohol for the first time, compared with averages of about 5,000–8,000 first-time users in most other months. December was the only other month with a similar peak in first-time alcohol use.