Substance Use in High Schoolers Linked to Mental Health Risks: What Parents Need to Know


Substance Use in High Schoolers

In a recent study conducted by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the University of Minnesota, high school students using alcohol, cannabis, or nicotine, even at low levels, were found to be more susceptible to symptoms of mental health disorders.

The study, based on a 2022–2023 survey of over 15,000 Massachusetts high school students, sheds light on the connection between substance use in high schoolers and psychiatric symptoms, including suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, psychotic experiences, and ADHD symptoms.

The research uncovered a direct correlation between substance use and psychiatric symptoms among high school students, revealing alarming trends even at low levels of usage.

The substances examined were alcohol, cannabis, and nicotine, with daily or near-daily use consistently associated with moderate increases in psychiatric symptoms. Students using substances daily or near-daily were found to be approximately five times more likely to experience thoughts of suicide compared to non-users.

Notably, even students with lower levels of substance use displayed an increase in psychiatric symptoms.

Expert Insights:
While the study highlights the concerning impact of substance use on mental health, some experts urge caution in drawing definitive conclusions.

Dr. Christopher J. Hammond, an associate professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, emphasizes the study’s lack of consideration for the combined use of multiple substances among adolescents, a common occurrence that may further impact mental health symptoms.

Dr. Maria H. Rahmandar, co-author of the American Academy of Pediatrics clinical report on suicide and suicide risk in adolescents, acknowledges the study’s contribution to understanding the relationship between the frequency of substance use and mental health conditions.

While the findings may not clarify the direct effects of different substance types, they underscore the importance of addressing substance use, particularly in youth with mental health concerns.

Implications for Parents:
Parents play a crucial role in navigating conversations around substance abuse with their teenagers. Initiating discussions about “gateway drugs” like alcohol and nicotine should begin as early as age 9.

Addressing topics such as the appropriateness of medications, peer pressure, and the risks associated with social media can help create an open dialogue about substance use.

In light of the study’s findings, parents are urged to stay vigilant and attuned to potential signs of mental health struggles in their teenagers. Recognizing the interconnectedness of substance use and mental health, particularly suicidal thoughts, is vital. If a child expresses thoughts of suicide, parents are advised to take it seriously, regardless of the child’s age.

Maintaining a calm demeanor and encouraging open communication are crucial steps, accompanied by thoughtful questions aimed at understanding the child’s perspective and needs.

The study sheds light on the complex relationship between substance use and mental health risks among high school students.

While further research may be needed to explore the nuanced dynamics of different substances, the findings underscore the importance of proactive conversations, early intervention, and parental awareness in addressing the intersection of substance use and mental health challenges among adolescents.

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply

Up Next

New Study Reveals Link Between Depression, Anorexia, and Gut Microbiota

Substance Use in High Schoolers

A recent study published in BMC Psychiatry sheds light on a potential connection between major depressive disorder (MDD), anorexia, and gut microbiota. Led by researchers at the First Hospital of Shanxi Medical University, the study suggests that individuals with both depression and anorexia exhibit distinct patterns in their gut bacteria, particularly involving the presence of a specific bacterium called Blautia.

Depression, characterized by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in daily activities, affects millions worldwide and is often accompanied by a high risk of suicide. Anorexia, marked by reduced appetite and distorted body image, commonly co-occurs with depression, complicating treatment efforts.

Gut Bacteria’s Role in Depression and Anorexia

Up Next

Anxiety Alleviation: Dietitians Recommend 4 Drinks to Lower Anxiety

Substance Use in High Schoolers

In a world where stress and anxiety are prevalent, with up to 19% of U.S. adults experiencing prolonged anxiety, the quest for effective coping mechanisms continues.

While traditional treatments like medication and therapy remain pillars of support, emerging research suggests that dietary choices, including hydration, might play a significant role in managing anxiety levels.

Drinks to Lower Anxiety You Must Know About

Here, we delve into the top drinks to lower anxiety recommended by dietitians –

1. Chamomile Tea: Renowned for its calming properties, chamomile tea contains apigenin, a flavonoid compound known for its anti-anxiety effects. Wan Na Chan, M.P.H., RD,

Up Next

Managing Autoimmune Disorders Through Yoga: Effective Practices to Consider

Substance Use in High Schoolers

In recent years, the intersection between holistic practices like yoga and conventional medicine has garnered significant attention, particularly in the realm of managing autoimmune disorders.

A burgeoning body of research suggests that incorporating yoga into treatment plans can offer tangible benefits for individuals grappling with autoimmune conditions. From rheumatoid arthritis to lupus, yoga’s gentle yet powerful techniques hold promise in alleviating symptoms and improving overall quality of life.

Yoga, with its emphasis on mindful movement, breathwork, and relaxation, provides a multifaceted approach to managing autoimmune disorders. The practice not only addresses physical symptoms but also targets the underlying stress and inflammation that often exacerbate these conditions.

Up Next

Pregnancy Linked to Accelerated Aging Process in Women, Study Finds

Substance Use in High Schoolers

In a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers shed light on a compelling connection between pregnancy and the aging process in women.

The study, led by Calen Ryan, an associate research scientist at the Columbia University Ageing Center, suggests that women who have experienced pregnancy may exhibit more signs of biological aging compared to those who haven’t. Intriguingly, the research also indicates that the aging process may accelerate with multiple pregnancies.

Ryan commented on the findings, stating, “We’re discovering that pregnancy leaves lasting effects on the body. While not all are negative, it appears to heighten the risk of certain diseases and overall mortality.”


Up Next

Unlocking Hoarding Disorder: Understanding, Support, and Effective Solutions

Substance Use in High Schoolers

Hoarding disorder, a mental health condition characterized by persistent difficulty in parting with possessions and accumulating excessive clutter, affects millions of individuals worldwide. Here’s what you need to know about this often misunderstood disorder and how to support those who struggle with it.

Defining Hoarding Disorder:

Hoarding disorder is a complex mental health condition marked by a compulsive urge to accumulate possessions, leading to overwhelming clutter and difficulty discarding items.

According to experts like Brad Schmidt and Gregory Chasson, individuals with hoarding disorder often experience distress at the thought of parting with their belongings and may also have a strong desire to acquire new items.

Up Next

Understanding Cherophobia: Signs, Causes, and Coping Strategies

Substance Use in High Schoolers

Cherophobia, a condition characterized by an aversion to happiness, has garnered attention for its impact on mental well-being.

Derived from the Greek word “Chairo,” meaning “I rejoice,” cherophobia manifests as an irrational fear of experiencing joy. Therapist Carolyn Rubenstein explains that this fear often stems from anxious thoughts associated with past trauma or childhood experiences linking happiness to negative outcomes.

Signs of Cherophobia

Recognizing the signs of cherophobia is crucial for identifying individuals who may be struggling with this condition:

Feelings of Guilt and Unworthiness: Those with cherophobia experience guilt and unwor

Up Next

Stress Can Lead to Cortisol Belly: Here’s How to Fix It

Substance Use in High Schoolers

Stress can affect our lives in many ways, from our mental health to our relationships, but it can also lead to physical symptoms such as ‘cortisol belly’. Cortisol belly, named after the stress hormone, has been widely discussed on social platforms such as TikTok, with users and experts explaining how it occurs, and theorizing what could be done about it.

While you may not have heard of the term ‘cortisol belly’ before, you might have heard of stubborn belly fat or stress belly, which are essentially the same thing. This is because it refers to the accumulation of visceral adipose tissue around the stomach, which has been linked to prolonged exposure to elevated levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.

What Is Cortisol Belly?

According to dietitian