Do you remember when you first inhaled? Or what about the first time when you dropped some dubious paper into your mouth – which your friend Rocky promised would be “totally psychedelic” but was anything but?
No matter what illegal or recreational drug you took your first time out, the likelihood is that you, like many teens and adults, did it for the first time in the summer, says a new study led by researchers at NYU School of Medicine.
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- 34% of first-time LSD use happened in the summer
- 30% of marijuana
- 30% of ecstasy
- 38% of cocaine
Some of the reasons for the summer drug phenomenon, researchers posited, were that people had a lot of free time in the summer months, which combined which outdoor events like summer music festivals – major drug hotbeds since Woodstock.
Before you tsk-tsk, remember that in 2017, according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than 3 million people in the US tried LSD, marijuana, cocaine, or ecstasy for the first time. That’s a long summer!
“Parents and educators who are concerned about their kids need to educate them year-round about potential risks associated with drug use, but special emphasis appears to be needed before or during summer months when rates of initiation increase,” says Dr. Palamar, who is also a researcher in the Center for Drug Use and HIV/HCV Research at NYU College of Global Public Health.
For potential drug users, Palamar takes a harm reduction approach, recommending that people learn about the drugs they may use and educating themselves about their side effects. Based on previous research, he recommends being with friends when doing a drug for the first time, drinking plenty of fluids, and staying out of the sun.
The findings were published earlier this week in Journal of General Internal Medicine.