People are more likely to try drugs for the first time during the summer

American teenagers and adults are more likely to try illegal or recreational drugs for the first time in the summer, a new study shows.

Led by researchers at NYU School of Medicine, the study found that over a third (34 percent) of recent LSD initiates first used the drug in the summer. In addition, 30 percent of marijuana, 30 percent of ecstasy (also known as MDMA or Molly), and 28 percent of cocaine use was found to begin in summer months.

“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,” says study senior investigator Joseph J. Palamar, MPH, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Population Health at NYU School of Medicine.

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

Full story at Science Daily

Teens abusing painkillers are more likely to later use heroin

A USC study in the July 8 issue of JAMA Pediatrics shows that teens who use prescription opioids to get high are more likely to start using heroin by high school graduation.

“Prescription opioids and heroin activate the brain’s pleasure circuit in similar ways,” said senior author Adam Leventhal, a professor of preventive medicine and psychology and director of the USC Institute for Addiction Science at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “Teens who enjoy the ‘high’ from prescription opioids could be more inclined to seek out other drugs that produce euphoria, including heroin.”

Leventhal said the study, conducted from 2013-2017, is the first to track prescription opioid and heroin use in a group of teens over time. In 2017, 9% of the nation’s 47,600 opioid overdose deaths occurred in people under the age of 25, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition to overdose, health risks of heroin use are devastating and include severe addiction, hepatitis C, HIV and other infections.

Full story at Science Daily

Featured News: Family Involvement Key to Success of Teen Substance Use Treatment

Family involvement is a key component to success in treatment for teen substance use disorder, according to a review of recent research by an expert at the Center on Addiction.

“Our review has shown that programs that involve families are the most effective,” said Aaron Hogue, Ph.D., Director of Adolescent and Family Research at the Center on Addiction. He recently spoke about treatment for adolescent substance use at the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington, D.C.

As the opioid epidemic grows, there is great demand for treatment for opioid use disorder for teens and young adults, Hogue noted. “We know the most effective treatment is medication-assisted treatment, which combines medications with behavioral interventions,” he said. “This review helps treatment providers know which types of behavioral interventions will have the greatest impact.”

Full story at drugfree.org

Insufficient sleep associated with risky behavior in teens

Adolescents require 8-10 hours of sleep at night for optimal health, according to sleep experts, yet more than 70 percent of high school students get less than that. Previous studies have demonstrated that insufficient sleep in youth can result in learning difficulties, impaired judgement, and risk of adverse health behaviors. In a new study, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital examined a national data sample of risk-taking behaviors and sleep duration self-reported by high school students over eight years and found an association between sleep duration and personal safety risk-taking actions. Results are published in a JAMA Pediatrics research letter on October 1.

“We found the odds of unsafe behavior by high school students increased significantly with fewer hours of sleep,” said lead author Mathew Weaver, PhD, research fellow, Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Personal risk-taking behaviors are common precursors to accidents and suicides, which are the leading causes of death among teens and have important implications for the health and safety of high school students nationally.”

Full story at Science Daily

One-third of young adults have ridden with an impaired driver

A new study led by a Colorado State University researcher indicates that riding with an impaired driver is prevalent among emerging adults, with 33 percent of recent high school grads reporting the risky behavior at least once in the previous year.

In addition, the study shows that young adults are more likely to ride with a driver impaired by marijuana than a driver who is drunk. The research, published in the March issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, is one of the first to ask about what specific substance was used by the driver and who the driver was.

“Parents should be a role model by not driving while impaired, and real friends should stop their friends from driving after using substances — if using substances cannot be stopped,” said Kaigang Li, Ph.D., M.Ed., a Colorado State University assistant professor of health and exercise science.

Full story at Science Daily