Stories about: adolescents

Marijuana use and psychotic disorders in teens: Is there a correlation?

Teen smoking marijuana

Marijuana use during adolescence is highly correlated with an increased risk of developing a psychotic disorder, and marijuana is thought to play at least a partial causal role in this relationship.

In a study published today in JAMA Pediatrics, we found that among adolescents presenting for routine medical care who reported marijuana use in the past year, approximately four in 10 reported experiencing at least one psychotic symptom during or shortly after using marijuana. While the neurological mechanisms of these symptoms are not well understood, our findings are concerning and need to be studied further.

This study is the first to document the rate of psychotic symptoms experienced during marijuana use; our findings can be considered a baseline for comparison as the variety, strength and formulation of marijuana-based products proliferates.

Read the study in JAMA Pediatrics and learn more about Boston Children’s Adolescent Substance Abuse and Addiction Program (ASAP).

About our experts:

Dr. Sharon Levy headshot

Sharon Levy, MD, MPH, is the director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse and Addiction Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician and an associate professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.





Dr. Elissa Weitzman headshotElissa Weitzman, ScD, MSc, is an associate scientist at Boston Children’s Hospital and an associate professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

Teens and marijuana use: ‘Avoidance is best’


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

What do teens really think about cholesterol screening?

high cholesterol

In 2011, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommended universal cholesterol screening for adolescents and young adults ages 17–21 years. This recommendation is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and is meant to detect abnormal cholesterol levels that could lead to problems many years in the future, like heart attacks and strokes. The recommendation is predicated on the premise that teens will actually want to do something about an abnormal result — like change their diet or exercise habits or take a cholesterol-lowering medication. But will they?

As clinicians and researchers in the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine and the Department of Cardiology’s Preventive Cardiology Program, we sought to answer this question by going straight to the source — teens and young adults between the ages of 17-21 years. As part of a Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute award, we teamed up with a variety of stakeholders who care about heart health and cholesterol screening in youth — teens, parents, pediatricians, nurse practitioners and researchers in the field. Working with this panel of stakeholders, we devised a set of hypothetical cholesterol-screening scenarios and presented them to 37 youth at different levels of risk for cholesterol problems, as well as 35 parents of youth in this age range. We asked them how they would feel if they or their child received a very high, moderately high or reassuring cholesterol test and then explored their thoughts and feelings further in an in-depth interview. Our results were recently published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. …Read More

Much ado about (almost) nothing: Revisiting Paxil in adolescents

adolescent brain Paxil

BMJ recently published a re-analysis of a 2001 study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP), evaluating the use of paroxetine (Paxil) to treat teens with depression. This re-analysis falls under the RIAT (restoring invisible and abandoned trials) initiative that encourages companies and researchers to update findings from past clinical trials.

This news is essentially “much ado about nothing,” because no one was doing anything based upon the 2001 study. But it is worth noting because it was not the best moment for the JAACAP and the authors of the original article. …Read More