To the Editor:
Summer is a peak time for drug and alcohol use among teens. Each day, 11,000 teens take their first drink.
Research shows that first-time use of these substances increases among teenagers during the summer months, according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Underage drinking and drug use are serious public health problems and pose enormous health and safety risks.
Twice as many teens die in highway crashes every day in June, July and August compared to the rest of the year (NHTSA).
During the school year, the "risk-taking danger zone" for youth typically occurs during the after-school hours. Summertime expands that window of risk much further, as supervision and structure decreases and freedom and time spent with friends increases.
Summer boredom also increases teens' risk of using. According to a past survey conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, young people who are frequently bored are 50 percent likelier than those not often bored to smoke, drink, get drunk and use illegal drugs.
Starting a conversation with teens is the first step in keeping them safe and helping them make positive choices. Give teens alternatives to keep busy this summer such as a summer job, volunteer work, and organized activities in the community.
For information and resources on how to have a conversation with teens about the health and safety risks of alcohol and other drugs, visit LowCountry Alliance for Healthy Youth's website at lcahealthyyouth.com.
Dr. Loretta Novince