In the News

School Policing and Disciplining May Lead to Student Substance Abuse

In new research in the journal Addictive Behaviors, public health researchers find that the prevalence of school discipline and school policing—core elements of the school-to-prison pipeline—predict subsequent school-average levels of substance use and developmental risk.

More teens than ever are overdosing. Psychologists are leading new approaches to combat youth substance misuse

For years, students in middle and high schools across the country were urged to “just say no” to drugs and alcohol. But it’s no secret that the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program, which was typically delivered by police officers who urged total abstinence, didn’t work. A meta-analysis found the program largely ineffective and one study even showed that kids who completed D.A.R.E. were more likely than their peers to take drugs

Reported drug use among adolescents continued to hold below pre-pandemic levels in 2023. New data show relatively low use of illicit substances, yet overdose death rates among teens have risen in recent years

  • The percentage of adolescents reporting they used any illicit substances in 2023 continued to hold steady below the pre-pandemic levels reported in 2020, with 10.9% of eighth graders, 19.8% of 10th graders, and 31.2% of 12th graders reporting any illicit drug use in the past year, according to the latest results from the Monitoring the Future survey.

CDC report finds teens use drugs — often alone — to ease stress and anxiety

Teenagers with suspected substance use problems say they turn to drugs because of a crushing need to relax and escape worries, according to research published Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new findings follow reports of rising anxiety and depression among the nation's youth, including unprecedented levels of hopelessness.

Rising Numbers Unmet Needs: Immigrant Newcomers in Massachusetts High Schools

Educational Opportunity in Massachusetts is a long-standing research-practice partnership between researchers at the Annenberg Institute at Brown University and the Massachusetts Departments of Elementary and Secondary Education and Higher Education. Our work analyzes how students progress through the state’s K-16 education system and into the workforce, with a specific focus on providing evidence to inform policy and practice in the Commonwealth. We use rich longitudinal data to explore students’ backgrounds in nuanced ways, including by race/ethnicity, first language spoken at home, immigrant status, and country of origin. Recent and ongoing lines of inquiry include the equity consequences of high-stakes exit exams, the impact of state policies and the pandemic on students’ educational outcomes, how schools affect economic opportunity for students living in poverty, and the experiences of immigrant newcomers in Massachusetts.

High Potency Marijuana Carries Health Risks

As states have legalized and commercialized marijuana, the plant that got hippies high in the 1960s has morphed into high-potency plants and extracts that can have greater highs — and more harmful side effects.

High School Kids Who Use Weed, Alcohol Face Higher Risks for Suicidal Thoughts

High school students who smoke, drink or use weed are more likely to be emotionally troubled and have suicidal thoughts, a new study finds.

Family support vital to prevent teen substance use in border regions, study says

Comprehensive Pain and Addiction Center researchers surveyed teens on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border and found that strong family support can prevent children from using alcohol or drugs.

Moving Upstream: Opportunities in School Mental Health

Five opportunities fundamental to leveraging this unparalleled moment in school mental health to promote mental health and well-being for all youth.

FCC Approves Texting to 988 to Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) text message line, 988 three-digit dialing code, will take effect by July 16, 2022.

If you're struggling and need someone to listen, please, call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).

Advisory: Prescription Stimulant Misuse Among Youth and Young Adults

This Advisory reviews the evidence on prescription stimulant misuse among youth and young adults. It establishes prescription stimulant misuse as a public health problem, identifies associated risk and protective factors, and provides programs and action steps for stakeholders to prevent misuse.

Supporting our Educators: Sharing Struggles and Solutions

Dr. Stuart Ablon, iDECIDE Advisory Board member and Director of Think:Kids, a program at Massachusetts General Hospital's Department of Psychiatry, convened educators and administrators to discuss the growing concern around and potential solutions to children's post-pandemic challenging behaviors and lagging skills in school.


Evaluating a Novel Drug Education and Diversion Program: Implication for Research, Policy, and Practice

  • Citation: Iroegbulem, V.,* Deming, B.,* Gray, C., Maximus, D., Shanker, V., Liu, J., Ekanayake, E., Pachas, G.N., Lynch, S., Turncliff, A., Whittaker, J., & Schuster, R.M. (2022 November 6-9). Evaluating a Novel Drug Education and Diversion Program: Implications for Research, Policy, and Practice [Poster]. Poster presented at the annual meeting and expo of the American Public Health Association.

A Pragmatic Clinical Effectiveness Trial of a Novel Alternative to Punishment for School-based Substance Use Infractions: Study Protocol for the iDECIDE Curriculum

  • Citation: Gray CA, Iroegbulem V, Deming B, Butler R, Howell D, Pascale MP, Bodolay A, Potter K, Turncliff A, Lynch S, Whittaker J, Ward J, Maximus D, Pachas GN and Schuster RM (2023). A pragmatic clinical effectiveness trial of a novel alternative to punishment for school-based substance use infractions: study protocol for the iDECIDE curriculum. Front. Public Health 11:1203558. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2023.1203558

Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry, Third Edition

  • Citation: Forchelli G., Pollastri A., Schuster R.M., Gray C., Baldi O., Colvin M.K. School collaboration and consultation. In: Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry, Third Edition. Amsterdam (Netherlands): Elsevier Academic Press. In Press.

An Urgent Need for School-based Diversion Programs for Adolescent Substance Use: A Statewide Survey of School Personnel

  • Citation: Liu, J., Butler, R., Turncliff, A., Gray, C., Lynch, S., Whittaker, J., Iroegbulem, V., Howell, D., & Schuster, R. M. (2023). An urgent need for school-based diversion programs for adolescent substance use: a statewide survey of school personnel. Journal of Adolescent Health. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2023.04.00

Substance Use, Suicidal Thoughts, and Psychiatric Comorbidities Among High School Students

  • Adolescents who use substances have more psychiatric symptoms than peers who do not use. There are, however, conflicting findings on whether various substances have unique or nonspecific associations with co-occurring psychiatric symptoms. Similarly, dose dependence of these associations and presence of increased psychiatric symptoms among adolescents with infrequent use are debated. With increasing rates of adolescent mental health–related problems, particularly suicide, clarification on these issues is needed to inform screening, prevention and intervention, and policy. We examined associations between common substances and psychiatric symptoms among adolescents.

  • Citation: Tervo-Clemmens B, Gilman JM, Evins AE, et al. Substance Use, Suicidal Thoughts, and Psychiatric Comorbidities Among High School Students. JAMA Pediatr. Published online January 29, 2024. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2023.6263

Social Media Spotlight


  • BRYT spot is about the best practices for parents and new clinicians who are supporting teens in crisis. BRYT stands for Bridge for Resilient Youth in Transition and is a model for helping students return to school after lengthy absences.

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