As college campuses get back into motion, a new study reveals timing plays a key part in when students tend to experiment with specific drugs.
“Honestly I can say that rings pretty true both here and at home and I think that if you’re trying to combat substance use that’s something to really take into account,” said college junior Grace Frazor after we showed her the results.
The analysis of 12 years of government survey data finds college kids are more likely to try marijuana, inhalants and alcohol for the first time during June or July, not the school year.
Frazor, who doesn’t do drugs herself, explains what she’s seen.
“I think as far as the summer months go it has more to do with boredom than anything else,” she said.
But the most common drug students are likely to try during the school year is a stimulant like Adderoll or Ritalin. That peaks in November, December and April during exams.
“This is actually the first study that I’m aware of that has really looked into timing as far as the months of the year,” said Bethany Garr, the Director of Counseling and Wellness at Converse College.
She says the findings can help reshape on-campus programs, and also be a powerful tool for parents.
“They can really do a lot to anticipate the type of ways that they can handle those stresses as well as time the conversations around the different types of drug use to sort of match up with those different times of the year,” she said.
Research also finds one of the biggest risk factors in a child seeking out drugs is when a parent sets the bar too high and gives ultimatums.
“I’ve noticed the people that have done drugs and alcohol a lot of times it’s a rebellion thing,” said Frazor.
She believes parents who are supportive rather than demanding during the school year, and more observant during the summer months, can have a bigger impact on helping a young adult choose wisely.
The Maryland Collaborative to Reduce College Drinking and Related Problems offers tools and scripts for parents at www.collegeparentsmatter.org.