Stories about: substance abuse

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

Think chronically ill teens aren’t drinking or using marijuana? Think again.

teen drinking marijuana chronic illness substance use
(Snap2Art/Shutterstock)

The teenage years are prime time for experimenting with risky behaviors. One might assume that for teens growing up with a chronic disease like diabetes or cystic fibrosis, that wouldn’t be the case since alcohol can cause very serious problems for these kids.

But if Boston Children’s Hospital’s Elissa Weitzman, ScD, MSc, and Sharon Levy, MD, MPH, are right, that assumption could be completely wrong. According to a recent study the pair published in Pediatrics, chronically ill teens do exhibit risks for alcohol and marijuana use, and at levels similar to those reported for healthy youth. Those behaviors carry all the usual risks related to teen substance use (e.g., accident, injury), as well as unique risks related to their condition and its treatment.

Their study represents one of the first forays into understanding how chronically ill teens navigate the experience of growing up.

“Unprecedented numbers of young people are growing up with a chronic disease,” says Weitzman, who works in the hospital’s Division of Adolescent Medicine. “But by and large, while there are studies of chronic disease and studies of teen risk behaviors, little has been done to understand teen risk behaviors in the context of chronic disease.” …Read More

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