People more likely to try drugs during summer

Researchers have found that US teenagers and adults are more likely to try illegal or recreational drugs for the first time in summer.

"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 behaviours," said Joseph J Palamar, Associate Professor at New York University.

In 2017, according to the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than three million people in the US tried LSD, marijuana, cocaine, or ecstasy for the first time.

The study used data collected from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health between 2011 and 2017 involving about 394,415 people aged 12 and older.

According to the researchers, participants were surveyed about their use of various drugs through a computer-assisted interview. New users were asked to recall the month and year when they initiated use.

The findings, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, showed that over a third (34 per cent) of recent LSD initiates first used the drug in the summer.

In addition, 30 per cent of marijuana, 30 per cent of ecstasy – also known as MDMA or Molly and 28 per cent of cocaine use was found to begin in the summer months.

The investigators suggest that the results could be explained, in part, by people having extra recreational time during the summer, as well as the growing popularity of outdoor activities, such as music festivals, at which recreational drug use is common.

"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," Palamar said.

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