While the summer months are supposed to fun and a much needed break from the previous school year, a new survey finds that many teens are using their summer vacation to try drugs and alcohol.

The survey, conducted by the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, finds that nearly 11,000 teens will drink alcohol for the first time this summer, 5,000 will start smoking cigarettes and about 4,500 will try marijuana.

According to Dr. H. Westley Clark, director of the administration’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, more teens are experimenting with drugs and alcohol during these months because they have more idle time on their hands.

During the course of the rest of the year, these numbers appear to drop significantly. The survey finds the number of teens experimenting with alcohol for the first time dips somewhere in between 5,000 to 8,000, with nearly 4,000 teens reporting first time use of cigarettes and marijuana.

These findings are based on the administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health between the years of 2002 and 2012, which included interviews with more than 230,000 teens.

The good news is that there does not appear to be any relative increase in the abuse of prescription drugs and cocaine, although research suggests that more teens are using the summer to experiment more with things like hallucinogens and inhalants.

Experts recommend that parents work with their children to plan some type of structured daily activities, as well as have an open dialogue about what they are doing and about drugs and alcohol – and that by prolonging a teen’s experimentation with these types of things will help better their chances of not developing problems as adults.


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