By Meghan Heffner, Chemical Health Specialist

What a year it has been for students, parents, and educators. We certainly have a reason to celebrate summer break! However, research shows that the most common time for teens to try a new substance is during the summer. About one-third of first-time drug use occurs during the summer months.

Additionally, the Gateway Foundation states, “If a teen has begun abusing a substance during the school year, summer presents the opportunity to increase the frequency or intensity of the abuse. Without regular schoolwork and extracurriculars to worry about, summertime teen substance abuse can increase significantly.”

Embrace the warm weather, summer vacations, and free time. Let it fill you, but don’t let it blind you. Stay present, and let this summer be an opportunity for connection and togetherness.

Signs of Substance Use

Physical Signs:

-Inability to sleep or awake at unusual times

-Smell of substance on breath, body, clothes

-Runny nose, hacking cough, bloody nose

-Red, watery eyes or dilated pupils

-Change in eating, unexplained weight loss/gain

-Lack of grooming


Behavioral Signs:

-Changes in attitude, personality

-Excessive need for privacy

-Chronic dishonesty

-Sleeping in school

-Changes in academic performance: attendance, motivation, getting into trouble

-Changes in mood or behavior: lack of involvement in former interests, low energy, irritability, defensive

-Switching friends or peer groups

Reasons for Summer Substance Use

1. Free Time

2. Social Pressure

3. Events and Availability

What You Can Do

1. Listen and talk with your teen

2. Keep them engaged in healthy, positive activities

3. Supervise and monitor

4. Set expectations

5. Make it hard for teens to use by locking cabinets and utilizing Prescription Drug Drop-Off Sites.

6. Take advantage of the X Plan, which allows your teen to ask you to come get them, no questions asked and without the fear of their friends overseeing their text.