Stories about: Sharon Levy

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

Teen smoking marijuana
PHOTO: ADOBE STOCK

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’

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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Expert’s Corner: Opioids, medication misuse and your practice

medicine cabinet prescription opioid abuse
(David Smart/Shutterstock)

Every day, 2,500 American youth misuse a prescription pain medication (i.e., take without a prescription) for the first time, according to Foundation for a Drug-Free World. Though prescription medication misuse has declined among high school students since its peak 10 years ago, it remains a health concern.

Chances are that, like most pediatricians and primary care providers (PCPs) who treat teens, you typically don’t prescribe opioids to your patients.

The biggest source of misused medications is diversion from the family medicine cabinet, and many of these medications were left over from someone else’s prescription. Even though pediatricians may not be the source, they can help prevent problems by discussing the responsible use of medications and the risk of experimenting with opioids with our adolescent patients.

Sharon Levy, MD, MPH, director of the Boston Children’s Hospital’s Adolescent Substance Abuse Program, details the why’s and how’s for this recommendation. …Read More

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