Summer is a time for travel, working summer jobs, attending camps and other programs, and taking a break from it all by sleeping in and hanging out at the beach. But for some teens, summer means they will start using alcohol, marijuana or other drugs for the first time.
Each year, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health asks preteen and teenage students (ages 12-18) to report the year and month they first used a substance. The results of this survey reveal that summer is most definitely a time for experimentation.
Key findings include:
• First use of alcohol peaks in June and July (and also in December).
• First use of marijuana, tobacco (vapes, cigarettes, cigars and smokeless tobacco), and inhalers peak in June and July. The same holds true for college students.
A 2015 study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found similar results. Marijuana use and underage drinking peak in June. Not so coincidentally, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveal that during May, June, July, and August, nearly twice as many teens die in highway crashes every day when compared to the rest of the year.
Youthful drinking also contributes to injuries and deaths during other popular summertime activities, such as boating and swimming. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that alcohol use is a factor in up to 70 percent of adult and adolescent deaths associated with water recreation, almost a quarter of emergency department visits for drowning, and about one in five reported boating deaths.
As summer approaches, it is important for parents to be aware of summer temptations among high school and college students and to take positive steps to prevent experimentation, which can lead to regular use. SAMHSA advises parents to find activities and events that provide appealing alternatives for teens and to reinforce messages about the risks involved with using alcohol and drugs year-round, while consistently restricting access to these substances.
During the summer months in the Bay Area there is a party every night in some place. Monitor your teens' whereabouts, reach out to other parents using the Be the Influence Parent List, impose curfews and set consequences for breaking the rules you set in accordance with your family values.
Although parents may feel tempted to take a summer time break from all the monitoring, parenting is a 24-7 job. Remember -- be a parent and not a pal!
Notification of Police Departments of Vacation Plans
Did you know that your local police department will collect information on your vacation plans? This may help ensure that you won't be liable under Social Host Ordinance Laws in case there are any parties at your home during your absence. Consider calling your local police department and alerting them to any vacation plans you may have!