Summer Is The Most Popular Season For First-Time Drug Use

By Kelly Burch 07/29/19

A new study found that one-third of first-time drug use happens during the summer months.

people trying drug for first time in the summer
ID 41260961 © Rawpixelimages |

People are most likely to try drugs for the first time during the summer months, according to a study released this week. 

The study, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, found that about one-third of first-time drug use happens during the months of summer. One-third of marijuana and ecstasy use, more than one-third of LSD use and 28% of cocaine use are initiated during the summer, researchers found.

Study author Dr. Joseph Palamar told CNN that more down time and more parties during the summer could contribute to the trend. 

Parties & Festivals

"People aren't working like crazy, and if you're going out, maybe just because of the warmer weather, you might be hanging out with people more,” he said. 

In addition, music festivals that happen during the summer are popular spots for first-time drug use. "Particularly these days, the festival scene is huge," he said. 

Using drugs for the first time at a festival is particularly risky, he emphasized. 

"If you try ecstasy on a whim, and you're drunk, and you're dancing in 90-degree weather, that is dangerous," he said. "Ecstasy is the last thing you should be taking in an unplanned manner. Some party drugs we examined in particular require preparation before use. So while we're not promoting the use of ecstasy, for example, people who use a drug like ecstasy require adequate rest and hydration to help prevent potential adverse outcomes such as heat stroke.”

First-time drug users can experience unexpected consequences, he said. 

"Using a drug for the first time, I think, can place an individual at unique risk, especially if use is unplanned, or if they initiate a drug that they're unfamiliar with," Palamar said. 

Prevention & Harm Reduction

The data indicates that more drug use prevention efforts should be targeted during the summer months. 

"If we're thinking about prevention or harm reduction in real-time, we need to know when people are at highest risk for using," he said.  

Educating people about the risks of drug use, particularly in festival settings, could help people make more informed choices about their drug use and use more responsibly if they are going to indulge. 

"It kills me when I hear about these young kids being carried out of festivals," Palamar said. "Teens and young adults should not be dying from drugs like ecstasy. I think there's a lot of uneducated use going on, and it's scary."

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix
Kelly Burch Contrib.jpg

Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.