News

Recent stories

BCH among top 100 proposals for MacArthur $100 million grant

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation today unveiled Boston Children's Hospital is one of the highest-scoring proposals, designated as the Top 100, in its 100&Change competition for a single $100 million grant to help solve one of the world's most critical social challenges. Boston Children's Adolescent Substance Use & Addiction Program has developed an effective model to prevent and treat substance use disorders in youth. Led by Sharon Levy, MD, MPH, and Elissa Weitzman, ScD, MSc, the program proposes to establish pediatric addiction medicine clinical and training programs that will build a physician workforce to implement substance use disorder prevention, early intervention and treatment nationwide. Read the full news release here and read the complete proposal here.

 

BCH launches multidisciplinary initiative to develop vaccine against fentanyl overdose

The NIH has awarded $2.3 million for a pilot project, led by Boston Children's Hospital, to develop a vaccine that would protect people with opioid use disorder against an accidental fentanyl overdose. Fentanyl is responsible for a rising number of opioid deaths, and opioid users may not be aware that their drugs are laced with fentanyl. The study will also interview participants to determine their attitudes about potentially receiving an opioid vaccine. Future work will explore the possibility of protecting against accidental overdose of opiates other than fentanyl, and whether an opioid vaccine might benefit substance users more broadly.

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Other news stories and published articles

Student Experience of School Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (Journal of School Health, 2020)

Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is a clinical guideline that can help delay, prevent or reduce substance use behaviors in youth. The team aimed to describe the experiences of middle and high school students attending a school with an SBIRT program. Most respondents found SBIRT of value, though students with past‐year substance use were less positive about the experience. More research is needed to optimize SBIRT delivery in schools. Read more here.

 

Parental Perceptions About Alcohol Use for Their Adolescent with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (JDBP, 2020)

Alcohol use can worsen attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms, interfere with treatment, and worsen outcomes. In this recently published research article, the team's objective was to describe parental perceptions of alcohol use for their adolescents with ADHD. The findings were that many parents of adolescents with ADHD do not understand the unique risks of alcohol use for their adolescents. In addition, if alcohol use harm is not obvious, parents may not perceive there to be concerns about alcohol use on functioning. Parental education about alcohol use and ADHD is needed.

 

Online Searching and Social Media to Detect Alcohol Use Risk at Population Scale (AJPM, 2019)

Due to the high morbidity and mortality rates associated with alcohol use, especially among youth, efforts have been taken to find scalable methods to monitor adolescent alcohol use, as current methods are constrained by time and labor. In the 2019 American Journal of Preventive Medicine article “Online Searching and Social Media to Detect Alcohol Use Risk at Population Scale” Dr. Elissa Weitzman and her colleagues developed a novel method for monitoring state-wide alcohol use and the effects of local policy on youth drinking culture. By looking at alcohol key-word Twitter and Google Trends, Dr. Weitzman and her colleagues found strong associations between alcohol use rates and state-wide alcohol-related searches and postings. Furthermore, the most stringent state policies on alcohol use were associated with lower posting and searching rates. These findings support the use of this novel method to monitor alcohol use on a large scale and to evaluate the impact of local policy on drinking culture. Read more here.

 

 

Additional Articles

Marijuana use and psychotic disorders in teens: Is there a correlation? (BCH Notes, 2018)

To understand the nature of the connection between marijuana use and acute psychosis, Dr. Elissa Weitzman and Dr. Sharon Levy conducted a study of adolescents with reported marijuana use. Of those surveyed, approximately four out of ten self-reported experiencing psychotic symptoms during or immediately after ingestion. This study has implications for the early recognition of psychotic disorder susceptibility, as psychotic symptoms may signify a predisposition to future disorder development. Read more on the story here and here.

 

Many Teens with Chronic Illnesses Use Alcohol, Pot (Medicinenet, 2015)

Contradicting previous theories on substance abuse and youth with chronic conditions, a recent study shows that alcohol and marijuana use among high school students with asthma, cystic fibrosis, type one diabetes, juvenile arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease is comparable to their peers.

 

Cheap Drinks and Risk-Taking Fuel College Drinking Culture (NPR, 2014)

In order to better understand why young adults begin to drink heavily, Dr. Elissa Weitzman conducted a national survey of college freshmen on the conditions that contribute to college drinking culture. One of the largest contributing factors to a student’s decision to drink was the access to cheap alcohol, facilitated by specials at bars and clubs. In another study, Dr. Weitzman determined that by restricting these promotions at bars frequented by university students, student drinking rates — and related behaviors such as missing class — decreased. As a result, the culture of drinking might be more flexible and subject to changes in social conditions than previously thought. Read more on the story here.

 


Boston Children’s Meet-up Group: ‘Making Science’ in Fiber Arts

Sometimes my best ideas come when I least expect them — including when I’m knitting or doing something with my hands and talking to colleagues and friends. If you are a knitter, crocheter or fiber arts “maker” (novice or advanced), your peers will be sitting, making, and talking science and ideasonce a month in the 333 Longwood 3rdFloor (ORL LO 365) Conference Room. We’d love to see you and your project there — let us know you’re coming so we can provide a light lunch; register by emailing us; newcomers welcome!

 

For more updates and news, follow Dr. Weitzman on Twitter.