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June and July sees soaring numbers in first-time teen drug use

Teenagers are more likely to smoke a cigarette or weed
for the first time in either June orJuly than any other
month, a new study found. More than 11,000 teens first use
alcohol during the summer, U.S.
News
reported. Some 5,000 first smoked a cigarette and
4,500 experimented with marijuana.

The findings were drawn from interviews with more than
230,000 teens, between 2002 and 2012, in the
administration’s annual National Survey on Drug Use and
Health. The report was released Tuesday by the U.S.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration
.

“More free time and less adult supervision can make summer
months an exciting time for many young people, but it can
also increase the likelihood of exposure to the dangers of
substance abuse,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela Hyde said in
the press release. “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.”

The statistics should be a call to action for parents with
teens who are out of school during the summer months,
chief clinical officer at Phoenix House and policy expert
Deni Carise told CBS News. While research both supports
and challenges evidence that marijuana leads to stronger
drugs, her work indicates that drug users have, at one
point, also tried tobacco.

In order to stop teens from long-term drug abuse problems,
“parents need to be cognizant that their children have
more free time and increase activities during the summer
months, as well as have more discussions about the harmful
effects of drugs,” CBS News reported. “They should also
take care to hide prescription medications. Community
programs that keep kids busy and offer alternative
activities can also help.”

Anti-drug advocates in Washington, D.C., Virginia and
Maryland, are working to help kids stay drug-free, the Washington Examiner reported. Local
jurisdictions within these regions are launching
substance-abuse prevention programs.

Drug and alcohol prevention measures, however, demand more
than awareness among teens, the Washington Examiner
reported. “It’s about access and looking at community
attitudes as well,” said Charles Dark, head of prevention
programs in Wards 5 and 6. “In some communities it’s not
frowned upon to have youth that are underage drinking. You
have to tell people, ‘It’s not the norm to smoke a joint
with your child.’ It’s almost like deprogramming folks.”

Rachel Lowry is a reporter intern for the
Deseret News.

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