Stories about: Illegal drugs

5 things to know about talking to your kids about heroin (and other drugs)

Dadboywalking (3)The news seems to be everywhere — misuse of prescription pain medication has led to an epidemic of opioid addiction. And the phenomenon is occurring in both teens and adults.

Every day, 2,500 American youth use a prescription pain reliever without a prescription for the first time, according to Foundation for a Drug-free World.

Many teens who misuse pain medication will lose control over use — the hallmark of addiction. Eventually, some will switch to heroin, which is the same class of drug as prescription pain medication but much stronger.  Dr. Sharon Levy, director of the Boston Children’s Hospital Adolescent Substance Abuse Program, offers tips to help parents understand the problem and talk to their kids about drugs and alcohol.

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Emergency Department visits related to Molly narcotic skyrocket

Molly can be in pill or powder form, and can be diluted in a drink

Emergency Department (ED) visits related to the drug MDMA have exploded recently, fueled by the popularity of Molly—a powdered form of the drug often celebrated in popular culture. A recent report from U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that among young people, ED trips for MDMA have increased 128 percent between 2005 and 2011.

Molly, which doubles as both a stimulant and hallucinogen, gives the user a euphoric high but can also dangerously increase the heartbeat, spike blood pressure, constrict blood vessels and disrupt the body’s ability to regulate and recognize temperature.

But despite all its dangers, Molly maintains a soft public image.

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When docs talk about alcohol use, teens listen

Arms crossed, eyes rolled, heavy sighs. Teens’ body language often suggests utter disregard for adults’ advice. The phenomenon may peak during discussions about substance use, which is one reason some pediatricians may bypass substance abuse counseling during annual visits. Yet the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends physicians screen all adolescents for alcohol at least once a year. New research from the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research (CeASAR) at Boston Children’s Hospital may allay physicians’ fears.

A brief computer-facilitated counseling session during an annual physician visit reduced drinking among teens whose friends drink or approve of drinking. In a study of 2,092 12- to 18-year-old patients, teens with friends who drink (those with peer risk) had reduced alcohol use at three-month follow-up, Jennifer Louis-Jacques, MD, MPH, from Boston Children’s Division of Adolescent Medicine, reported in a study published online Nov. 11 in Journal of Adolescent Health.

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Using Cory Monteith’s tragic death as a teaching moment

It’s a sad time for Glee fans. Cory Monteith, 31, one of the show’s stars, was found dead this week in his hotel room from a combination of heroin and alcohol.

From an early age, Monteith had struggled with addiction and wasn’t shy about discussing it. In a 2011 interview, the actor described how he started drinking and smoking marijuana at 13 years old, often skipping school to do so. By the time he quit school at 16, the actor said he was “out of control” and “had a serious problem.”

But for younger Glee viewers who only knew Monteith as Finn Hudson—the clean-cut star athlete turned glee club member—understanding the difference between the lifestyle of the actor and the character he portrayed on TV may be difficult.

“My 14-year-old daughter is a big Glee fan, and she definitely was shocked by this news,” says Sharon Levy, MD, MPH, director of Boston Children’s Hospital Adolescent Substance Abuse Program. “It was a topic of conversation in our house all weekend. As a parent, I really wanted to know what she thought about the circumstances around his passing and gauge her understanding of how serious a problem addiction can be.”

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