The summer of love may be over but recreational drug use continues to grow.
If you are old enough to remember 1967’s “Summer of Love,” then you know that the summer was marked in part by widespread recreational use of drugs by America’s youth. In fact, that summer was a watershed of sorts as it moved recreational drug use out of the shadows and into the mainstream. The summer, and the “Turn on, tune in, drop out” movement it inspired, may have faded into autumn, but recreational drug use numbers continued to grow. As of the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 130 million Americans have tried illegal drugs in their lifetime, and up to 30 million report usage within the “past month.”
That America’s nascent 1967 infatuation with illegal drugs apparently began in the summer isn’t a surprise to researchers at the New York School of Medicine, who just released a study showing that American teenagers and adults are more likely to first try illegal or recreational drugs in the summer. Published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, the study—“Summer as a Risk Factor for Drug Initiation”—determined that roughly a third of first-time LSD, marijuana, and ecstasy (MDMA) use was initiated during the summer months, while a little over one-fourth of first-time cocaine use began in the summer.
More leisure and recreational time contribute to risky behavior.
Researchers cited extra recreational time and the popularity of outdoor music festivals as two probable reasons behind their findings. The extra recreational time provides people with more opportunities to engage in possible risky activities, while drug use is known to be exceptionally common at outdoor music festivals. With this in mind, the researchers recommend that parents and teachers “need to educate [children and teenagers] 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.”
Healthy activities and sports can help young people avoid illegal drug use.
While the researchers are interested in a follow-up study to better understand the particular situations leading to the first time use, as well as understanding whether it tends to be planned or unplanned, perhaps more research needs to be conducted into ways to prevent that first time use. Anecdotal evidence suggests that being active in sports can keep children and teenagers from experimenting with drugs, and a 2011 National Institute on Drug Abuse study found that physical activity may help teens resist substance abuse.
If you or someone you care about, has an ongoing history of substance use and/or relapse, contact us at Gulf Breeze Recovery or call: (855) 433-4480 to speak to an addiction expert to learn more about our program that has helped so many people overcome their addiction and embrace life.
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