Teens Are More Likely to Try Drugs During the Summer

Teens Are More Likely to Try Drugs During the Summer

A new study shows that American teens are more likely to try illegal or recreational drugs for the first time during the summer.

Led by researchers at NYU School of Medicine, the study found that 30% of marijuana, 30% of ecstasy (also known as MDMA or Molly), and 28% of cocaine use was found to begin in summer months.

About 394,415 people ages 12 and older answered questions for the National Survey on Drug Use and Health between 2011 and 2017. 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 researchers 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.

Based on these results, researchers recommend:

  • First-time users become educated about the drugs they are going to use and their side effects.
  • Having the company of trusted friends when taking drugs for the first time.
  • Drinking enough fluids, and getting enough rest to avoid dehydration, exhaustion, or more serious outcomes such as heat stroke.

Parents and educators who are concerned about their kids need to educate them year-round about the potential risks associated with drug use, but special emphasis appears to be needed before or during summer months when rates of initiation increase.


Authored by:  Dr. Kiara Moore

Reference:  Joseph J. Palamar, Caroline Rutherford, Katherine M. Keyes. Summer as a Risk Factor for Drug Initiation. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 2019