Summer as a Risk Factor for Drug Initiation

  • Joseph J. PalamarEmail author
  • Caroline Rutherford
  • Katherine M. Keyes
Concise Research Report


In 2017, an estimated 3,033,000 individuals in the United States (US) initiated cannabis, 1,037,000 initiated cocaine, 794,000 initiated LSD, and 787,000 initiated ecstasy/MDMA/Molly.1 Few studies, however, have investigated season as a risk factor for initiation of these drugs, which are among the most commonly used in a “recreational” manner (e.g., in party settings). Prevalence of initiation of alcohol, tobacco products, and cannabis is estimated to be highest in summer months among adolescents and college students, but studies have not documented clear peaks in initiation of other drugs such as cocaine and hallucinogens in specific seasons,2, 3 or examined initiation across the broader age ranges in the general population.

Using a drug for the first time can place individuals at unique risk as new initiates may be unfamiliar with drug effects. Drug intoxication leading to emergency department (ED) visits has peaked over the summer in Europe,4but it is unknown to what...


Funding Information

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health under Award Numbers R01DA044207 (PI: Palamar) and K01DA038800 (PI: Palamar).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

The Institutional Review Board of New York University Langone Medical Center deemed this analysis exempt from review.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they do not have a conflict of interest.


The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Population HealthNew York University School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public HealthColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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