Summertime is the time for summer fun. That means picnics, parties, barbeques, memorable vacations, concerts, fairs, festivals, and all kinds of outdoor sporting events. Unfortunately, summertime is also when people are most likely to put their health at risk when it comes to using alcohol and recreational and illegal drugs for the first time.
These findings have been demonstrated in a national survey on drug use by the Amaral research association. The investigation focuses on questions concerning drug use and habits, including what time of the year a new drug was first used.
The survey asked about marijuana/cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy and LSD. The results were published by researchers at Columbia University in New York. Dr. Catherine Keys, the author of the study, reports that 25-33 percent of all first-time drug use occurs in the summer.
This information comes as no surprise to most drug treatment facility professionals. Because of all the summertime activities and gatherings, drug and alcohol use is much more available and common at these events. With increased alcohol consumption, drug consumption, and general partying, inhibitions go down and overall and new drug use increases.
These results support previous research asserting that both drug and alcohol use increases during summer months. Hospitals and emergency rooms have long reported that more patients end up in the emergency room in the summertime with problems associated with intoxication from alcohol and recreational drugs.
Treatment centers report a similar finding: During the summer there are significantly more drug relapses in patients who are either abstinent or are trying to limit or reduce drug and alcohol use.
Pediatricians are especially concerned, as expressed in a report in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. Young adulthood and adolescence is when people first start experimenting with alcohol and drug use, and the summertime is the most high-risk time for this group of susceptible people to first start abusing drugs and alcohol.
Addiction doctors and specialists say that in the summertime it is especially important for parents to be mindful and watchful of teens and young adults with respect to drug and alcohol first-time experimentation and use. Tips include:
- Know where your teens are physically located at all times.
- Know who they are spending their free time with.
- Know what they are doing when they are not at home.
Experts agree on two things:
- The best way to successfully treat alcohol and drug addiction is to prevent it in the first place.
- The earlier someone starts using or abusing alcohol and drugs means that they have a much higher chance of encountering a lifelong struggle with drug and alcohol abuse and addiction.
To prevent the use of alcohol and drugs, be sure to talk to your children when they are young, and speak to them often. If you suspect a problem with alcohol or drug abuse in your children, talk to your doctor or their pediatrician, immediately, for help.
The sooner you intervene, the better chance you have of helping them have a healthy life when it comes to avoiding alcohol and drug abuse. There are great programs readily available that can help.
Charles E. Crutchfield III, MD is a board certified dermatologist and Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School. He also has a private practice in Eagan, MN. He received his M.D. and Master’s Degree in Molecular Biology and Genomics from the Mayo Clinic. He has been selected as one of the top 10 dermatologists in the United States by Black Enterprise magazine. Dr. Crutchfield was recognized by Minnesota Medicine as one of the 100 Most Influential Healthcare Leaders in Minnesota. He is the team dermatologist for the Minnesota Twins, Vikings, Timberwolves, Wild and Lynx. Dr. Crutchfield is an active member of both the American and National Medical Associations, and president of the Minnesota Association of Black Physicians.