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Study links teen substance use to mental health distress

Source: Health Policy Institute of Ohio

Teenagers who use cannabis, alcohol, and nicotine are more likely to have underlying psychiatric symptoms, and worse symptoms, than their peers who are not regularly using substances, new research has found (Source: “Teen Drug and Alcohol Use Linked to Mental Health Distress,” New York Times, January 29, 2024).

The research, recently published in JAMA Pediatrics, found that such substances are linked to an array of symptoms and conditions, including anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, and suicidal ideation. These findings suggest that asking adolescents about substance use may provide a powerful screening tool when looking for underlying mental health issues, researchers said.

“Universally screening for psychiatric symptoms in the context of all types of substance use is what we think might be most important,” said Brenden Tervo-Clemmens, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Minnesota and lead author of the paper.

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