Study Finds Link Between Teen Substance Use and Mental Health

Study Finds Link Between Teen Substance Use and Mental Health
01.02.2024

Teenagers who drink alcohol, or smoke cigarettes or marijuana are more likely to experience mental health issues than those who don’t regularly use those substances, reports a new study.

Anxiety, depression, hyperactivity, and suicidal thoughts are linked to the use of these substances, says research published in JAMA Pediatrics. Screening teens about their substance use could be helpful in finding underlying mental health issues, researchers noted.

“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, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Minnesota and lead author of the paper, in The New York Times.

“All the symptoms of mental health we examined, be it depression, suicidal thoughts, ADHD, were elevated no matter what the substance was,” he said.

Researchers said that daily or near-daily use was linked to a moderate increase in symptoms, The New York Times reported. “The most frequent and intensive users of the substances experienced the most severe mental health symptoms,” the newspaper wrote.

Information from two large groups of teens was used in the study. One group was made up of 15,600 high school students in Massachusetts, and the other was data from 17,000 teens who responded to the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

A link was found between various symptoms and substances.

“It’s not just cannabis, it’s not just alcohol, it’s not just nicotine,” Tervo-Clemmens said. “It seems to be no matter the substance.”

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