By Brandon Matthews

Ah summertime! For a student, this may actually be the most wonderful time of the year (sorry Christmas season). School is out. This means no more early morning bus rides, no more homework, no more lectures, no more tests, and no more studying. Just two full months of fun. When we think about summer, we may think about going to the beach, getting a tan, laying by the pool, backyard BBQ’s and creating memories with friends and family. However, one aspect of summer that we may not consider is all of the idle time at a student’s disposal which can lead to negative behavior such as underage drinking and drug use.

The National Library of Medicine (and others) report that the use of alcohol, tobacco products, and cannabis is estimated to be highest in summer months among adolescents and college students. Not only are there more substance use in general, studies also show that drug use, specifically recreational drug use spikes among first-time users in the summer months. This means some of our students will discover and use their first substance this summer. This wasn’t a part of our summer visualization, was it?

The reason that substance use spikes in the summertime and for more first time users is an easy one to answer (I know you were wondering). It can be attributed to three reasons. 1. Students simply have more unstructured time at their disposal. 2. All of this extra time leads to boredom. As a parent, even with all of the technology and fun available to your kids, you will still hear “I’m bored.” 3. Kids will be kids and even today, peer pressure still exists in a real way. Summer often provides more opportunities for kids to fall into peer pressure to make dangerous decisions.

So how can you help (I’m glad you asked)? There are three simple things you can do that will make a big difference. 1. Keep them busy. Being busy helps to limit boredom and idle time toexplore dangerous options. 2. Keep them supervised. Kids often have less supervision during summer. After all, you didn’t get the summer off, right? Consider a summer program, camp, or even partnering with other parents and families to watch after the kids together. 3. Keep them educated. Sure, your students don’t want to talk about the dangers of substance use, but does that matter? Remind them. Educate them. Open the door to open conversation so they are comfortable bringing it up to you if necessary.

To help with the boredom, we want to help give your students some safe and fun summer activities. Hosted by the Alabaster Teen Council, there are five different movie nights that are free to attend and are a safe and fun place for your students to connect with their friends. These movies take place from June – August. There is also a giant slip n slide event in July. To learn more about these events and more, visit

Brandon Matthews is the For Tomorrow Program Director.