Stories about: Teen Health

Teens and opioids: Time for an open conversation

woman shooting heroin

National surveys have found that teens today are much less likely to use alcohol and drugs compared to their parents’ generation. In fact, the proportion of high school seniors who chose not to use alcohol, tobacco, marijuana or other drugs has increased from 3 percent to 25 percent in the last thirty years. This remarkable good news is overshadowed by the growing number of teens who are daily marijuana users and the recent increase in opioid-related deaths among young people. It is important to understand the roots of this discrepancy in order to address it.

Statistics show that between 2014 and 2015, the rates of drug overdoses — mainly due to opioids — increased by 19 percent in teens, and are now double what they were in 1999, proving that young people are an important part of the equation. We know that most adults with addiction problems started using when they were teens and those with opioid use disorders are no exception. As a pediatrician and adolescent health specialist, I see this as both a challenge and an opportunity.

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Endometriosis and the gift of motherhood

Allie and her toddler son in their apartment

When my first period came at age 13, it involved blood clots and extreme pain. I didn’t know what to expect or what was considered “normal,” but, thankfully, my mother did. She recognized that my symptoms were unusual and immediately took me to see my pediatrician. I was first prescribed birth control pills, which seemed to help initially, but when my period remained heavy and painful, I was put on a different birth control pill that enabled me to have my period only four times a year.

I thought my situation was normal — albeit uncomfortable and inconvenient. No one ever suggested painful periods could be anything more than bad luck. I would hear women talk about menstrual cramping and see advertisements for medications to relieve menstrual symptoms … I just figured I had bad periods like so many other adolescent and adult women.

I believed that for years.

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5 things parents should know about eating disorders

Dr. Sara Formandirector of Boston Children’s Hospital’s Outpatient Eating Disorders Program and Dr. Tracy Richmonddirector of the PREP weight management program in Adolescent Medicine, share five things parents should know about eating disorders.

Kids don’t have to be really thin to have an eating disorder.

Not everyone with an eating disorder looks like he or she has an eating disorder. The condition is often hidden in secret habits or obsessions. For example, binge eating and bulimia — or binging and purging — are common eating disorders not necessarily associated with thinness.

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Is your teen depressed? Seven tips for parents

Your daughter comes home from school, slams down her books and retreats to her room with a scowl. Since starting high school, you’ve noticed she’s been moody and irritable and her grades are starting to suffer. Should you be worried about depression?

“Almost everyone goes through periods of feeling sad or irritable for usually brief periods of time,” says Dr. Oscar Bukstein, associate psychiatrist-in-chief and vice chairman of psychiatry at Boston Children’s Hospital. “What sets depression apart is the presence of distress or impairment that interferes with daily life.”

Bukstein says he’s seen a steady rise in depression in young people over the past 25 years, as the stress of daily life increases. “The good news is that treatment generally works and more kids are seeking treatment.”

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