SAMHSA Releases New Reports on Drug Use
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released a report indicating that youths between the ages of 12 and 17 are far more likely to start using most substances during the summer than during other parts of the year.
On an average day in June and July, more than 11,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17 use alcohol for the first time—December is the only other month with comparable levels. Throughout the rest of the year the daily average for first-time alcohol use ranges from 5,000 to 8,000 adolescents.
Similarly in June and July, an average of 5,000 youths smoke cigarettes for the first time, as opposed to the daily average of about 3,000 to 4,000 adolescents during the rest of the year. The same pattern holds true to a large degree for first time use of cigars and smokeless tobacco among youth.
In terms of first-time use of marijuana, more than 4,500 youths start using it on an average day in June and July, as opposed to about 3,000 to 4,000 youths during the other months.
“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,” says SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde. “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.”
SAMHSA works closely with federal and state partners, including the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, on effective prevention programs especially tailored for the summertime season.
These include the Drug Free Communities coalitions program such as:
* Youth Above the Influence Photovoice Project that involves youths working within their communities to develop effective campaigns against underage drinking.
* Smart Summer Campaign that encourages parents to help prevent their children from using substances by setting realistic boundaries, monitoring activities and staying connected to their children in constructive ways during the summer months.
The report on first-time use by youths of substances by month also examined the abuse of other substances such as inhalants, cocaine, hallucinogens, and the nonmedical use of prescription medication. First-time hallucinogen use also peaked during June and July, and inhalant initiation peaked in July, but the summer months did not show higher rates of first-time use of cocaine or non-medical prescription drug use.
— Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration