Stories about: Adolescent Substance Abuse Program

How to help an adolescent who is using cannabis

A greenhouse where cannabis plants are grown legally.
A greenhouse where cannabis plants are grown legally.

Over recent years, big shifts in the marijuana landscape have made it easier than ever for American teens to be exposed to cannabis and to have the opportunity to use it.

Currently, only six states consider all forms of cannabis use to be illegal. Meanwhile, most states legally allow at least some medical cannabis use and several (including Massachusetts) have already legalized both medical and recreational use for adults.

“Whatever your views are on medical or recreational cannabis use for adults, however, there’s near-universal agreement that adolescents should not use cannabis,” says Lydia Shrier, MD, MPH, who directs clinic-based research in the Boston Children’s Hospital Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine.

But the legal system’s increasing support of cannabis and a rise in public approval of the drug has lowered the perception of risks associated with its use. As a result, in states where medical or recreational use for adults is legal, adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 are more likely to use cannabis than in states where all uses of the drug are illegal. …Read More

Vaping: The new face of nicotine

Vaping-e-cigarettes

E-cigarettes. Vapes. E-hookahs. Cigalikes. It’s hard to keep up with the terminology but one thing is certain: teens are using these products at an alarming rate.

According to a 2016 Report of the Surgeon General, the number of high school students who have used e-cigarettes increased 900 percent between 2011 and 2015 — making e-cigarettes the most common type of tobacco product used by teens and young adults.

“These products pose an interesting public health question because they’ve been accepted by some in the public health community as a useful smoking cessation tool,” says Sharon Levy, MD, MPH, director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Levy says that framing e-cigarettes in this way has led to mixed messages — and potential health risks. …Read More

Teens and marijuana use: ‘Avoidance is best’

Adolescents-marijuana

As of Dec. 15, adult recreational use of marijuana is legal in Massachusetts. The national conversation — often portraying marijuana as benign or even healthful — along with changes in marijuana policy, means that fewer high-school students believe marijuana use is harmful.

The retail sale of marijuana stands to normalize use, further reducing barriers to youth initiation and potentially decreasing adults’ concerns regarding marijuana use by adolescent children. Pediatricians are in a unique position to provide accurate information on the health effects of marijuana on the developing brain and to advise adolescents and their parents that from a health perspective, no use is best. …Read More

Keeping an eye on teen marijuana use

teens pot adolescents marijuana surveillance
(Photographee.eu/Shutterstock)

With laws at least partially legalizing marijuana in 23 states and the District of Columbia, it’s now a big business. What are the public health consequences of freely available weed — both acute and long-term? Are we making a big mistake here?

Our sister blog Vector reports that Sharon Levy, MD, MPH, of Boston Children’s Hospital’s Division of Developmental Medicine and Elissa Weitzman, ScD, MSc, of the hospital’s Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine, both of whom are concerned about potential harms to adolescents, recently argued in JAMA Pediatrics for a real-time marijuana surveillance system that could “monitor harms to youth from marijuana — in the context of legalization and fast-paced expansion of a commercial marijuana market.”

Learn about Levy and Weitzmann’s suggestions for beefing up marijuana surveillance on Vector.

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