Summer is a Risky Time for Youth Substance Use Teens start drinking, smoking cigarettes, and using marijuana in June and July than in any other month (SAMHSA). More than 11,000 teens ages 12 to 17, use alcohol for the first time. In June and July, about 5,000 teens smoke cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco for the first time compared to 3,000 to 4,000 a month throughout the rest of the year. More than 4,500 youth start using marijuana in June and July compared to 3,000 to 4,000 youth during other months of the year. More free time and less adult supervision can make summer an exciting time for many teens, but it can also increase their chance of experimenting with drugs or alcohol and other risky behaviors. That is why it is so important to talk to young people about the risks of substance use so they will be better able to make healthy choices. For working parents, it can be hard to monitor youth during the day. You can help keep your teen safe and drug free with these summertime tips:
- Set Summertime Rules: Make clear rules about unsupervised time spent with friends, as well as your expectations about drinking, smoking, and other risky behaviors.
- Supervise: This can be very difficult for parents of high school students. Be physically present when you can or try asking a friend, neighbor, or relative to randomly check in. Research shows that unsupervised youth are three times more likely to use alcohol or other drugs (SAMHSA).
- Monitor: Know where your child is and who they are with at all times. Randomly call and text your child to check in, and don’t be afraid to check up on your child by calling other parents. Talk often with the parents of your child’s friends.
- Stay Involved: Show your child you care by taking time out of your busy schedule to do something fun together. Provide some structure by helping them find a summer job, volunteer work, or other supervised activity.