Stories about: Sharon Levy

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.

Read Full Story

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.”

Read Full Story

Could better substance abuse screening during doctor visits reduce underage drinking?

In today’s busy medical environment, doctors are asked to do a lot in a short amount of time. The average well visit clocks in at somewhere around 12 minutes these days, which means pediatricians need to screen children for several potential problems in a very finite amount of time.

Because of these time restrictions there simply isn’t enough time to do all the screenings recommended as part of general health care. One area that often gets overlooked is substance abuse among adolescent patients.

Data suggests that many physicians do not routinely broach the topic of alcohol and drug use with their teen patients because there isn’t enough time to bring the subject up, or they don’t always know what to do when a screen suggests a patient may have a problem.

To make the process easier on time starved doctors, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Addiction (NIAAA) and the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) have both released screening and brief intervention guidelines that will help physicians choose valid screening tools and clearly explain when to suggest appropriate interventions for their patients.

Read Full Story