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Drug experimentation more likely to begin in summer

Summer was when 34 percent of LSD use, 30 percent of marijuana use, 30 percent of ecstasy use, and 28 percent of cocaine use first began, the study found. Photo courtesy of HealthDay News
Summer was when 34 percent of LSD use, 30 percent of marijuana use, 30 percent of ecstasy use, and 28 percent of cocaine use first began, the study found. Photo courtesy of HealthDay News

It's summer, a time of music festivals and rock concerts. And drug experimentation?

Apparently so, as new research shows many people try drugs for the first time when the weather is warm and the music is loud.

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Researchers examined data from nearly 395,000 people, aged 12 and older, who took part in the U.S. National Survey on Drug Use and Health between 2011 and 2017.

The analysis showed that summer was when 34 percent of LSD use, 30 percent of marijuana use, 30 percent of ecstasy use, and 28 percent of cocaine use first began.

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Possible reasons for high rates of first-time drug use in the summer include people having extra recreational time and the growing popularity of outdoor activities like music festivals, where recreational drug use is common, the researchers said.

More research is needed to learn more about specific situations -- especially in the summer -- when people are most likely to use drugs for the first time and the degree to which first use is planned or unplanned.

"First-time users may be unfamiliar with the effects of various drugs, so it is important to first understand when people are most likely to start these behaviors," said senior investigator Joseph Palamar, an associate professor in the Department of Population Health at NYU School of Medicine in New York City.

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In 2017, more than 3 million people in the United States tried LSD, marijuana, cocaine or ecstasy for the first time, according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

"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," Palamar said in a university news release.

Potential users should educate themselves about drugs they may use and their side effects, he recommended.

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It's also important to be with trusted friends if you're taking drugs for the first time, drink enough fluids and get enough rest to avoid dehydration, exhaustion or more serious problems such as heat stroke, Palamar advised.

The findings were published online July 23 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about drug use and addiction.

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