As a parent you may be worried that your newly college bound child may succumb to the temptations campus life is offering them. If that sounds right you may want to look into a new analysis that found when exactly students tend to experiment with drugs for the first time during certain times of the year.
The analysis found that most students tend to try stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin for the first time in November, December or April, according to the examination of 12 years of government survey data. They may believe attention deficit disorder medications will help them with their exams, even though there is no data to back that up. What can be backed up is the fact that these drugs can be addictive.
Marijuana, Alcohol, Cigarettes, Inhalants and Prescription Painkillers
Students are most likely to marijuana, inhalants and alcohol for the first time during the summer, not during school says SAMHSA. Some students may even get their first experiments with these substances out of the way in high school.
The peak for cigarettes is in June, September and October. Underage college students who have never tried alcohol are most likely to have it for the first time in June. First time use of cigars, marijuana and inhalants is highest in June and July.
The first non-medical use of prescription painkillers happens most often in December.
Most teenagers start drinking in high school but many do not. About 1,200 underage students each day, on average, try alcohol for the first time while in college. The average age of first alcohol use is about 17 in the United States, for other substances it is a bit later. First marijuana use is at about age 18 and first nonmedical use of prescription stimulants OR painkillers are typically around ages 21 to 22.
What New Data Can Do and What it Means
What this new data suggests is that prevention messages can targeted at the months when college students are most vulnerable. For most substances, there is a summer “peak.” For stimulants, first use is around finals time. There is a lot of anxiety and stress around final exams and a push for students to do well, leading them to use stimulant drugs to stay up later, study longer, and try to excel.
The report also determined the average number of full-time college students using substances for the first time each month of the year. It combined information from 68,600 full-time college students from 2002 through 2013 surveys.
Pinpointing the months is a new way to look at college and teen drug use. What this data can do is let parents know when it may be time to check in or give an encouraging boost to their kids.
The most important thing to remember is this isn’t a guaranteed science. Just do what you do as parents best and that is be a mom and/or dad. Stay aware, stay knowledgeable and check in. Talking about this stuff never hurts.