Addiction Policy Forum Blog

7 min read

How much social media is too much for teens?

By Mark Gold, MD on October 24, 2019

In August, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The release revealed that 14.4 percent of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 had a major depressive episode in the past year.1 Major depressive episodes are mental disorders characterized by two-week or longer periods of depressed mood or decreased enjoyment of usual activities, and associated behavioral problems. According to these released figures, 3.5 million, or one-in-seven adolescents had a major depressive episode in the past year. The numbers rose from 2017 when 13.3 percent of adolescents had experienced such an event and were up from 2004 when only 9 percent did. Added to rising suicide rates,2 these numbers raise the alarm of worsening mental health trends among adolescents. The internet and social media appear to play critical roles in spreading suicidal behavior: the effect of suicide clusters, for example, implicates social media.3  

While many young Americans face a dizzying array of challenges in their lives—from substance misuse to academic pressures to general fears about societal stability—adolescents in the past have also dealt with these concerns and did not experience a similar rate of depressive episodes. This leads journalists, educators, experts, and politicians looking for a root cause to understand these recent changes, and one major change stands apart from the rest: access to social media. In a recent study, researchers tried to determine whether frequent social media use contributes to negative mental health outcomes among adolescents.

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5 min read

Examining Brain Health Could Help Fight Methamphetamine Use Disorder

By Mark Gold, MD on August 1, 2019

Methamphetamine , a well-known psychostimulant drugs of abuse is in a resurgence in people using opioids and others. While many treatment options exist for patients with opioid use disorders, alcohol use disorders, and even tobacco smokers, there are far fewer options for people trying to stop using methamphetamines. No known medical treatments exist for overdose, dependence, craving, relapse, or to reverse all of the effects of methamphetamine binges and dependence. Experts studying substance use disorders recognize that their effects from misuse, especially the misuse of methamphetamine, can linger even after periods of abstinence.Patients treated for methamphetamine binges, or dependence, for example, often suffer from cognitive impairments, including psychosis. Some of the persistent problems may reflect underlying brain change or even damage. If overlooked, cognitive problems can limit the effectiveness of treatment. They can also create a dangerous hopelessness or relapse cycle. That’s one reason why it’s so important to understand how substances like methamphetamine may alter the brain’s structure.

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4 min read

The Impact of Racism and Mindfulness on Health

By Mark Gold, MD on June 20, 2019

A recent study brings forward some important insight into how racial discrimination affects behavioral health outcomes among young Black Americans. Read further to find out more about the negative impact of discrimination and how mindfulness may prove to be an effective strategy in mitigating associated health risks.

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3 min read

Back to Basics: Foundations of Self-Care for Everyone

By Caroline DuPont, MD on June 8, 2019

Family members often feel overwhelmed and upset by the complex, emotional responsibilities of trying to help their loved one with a substance use disorder. It can feel hard to think about anything else, but it’s important to understand that it is difficult to help someone else if you don’t also take steps to care for yourself. If you are struggling, find some time – even if only a few minutes each day – to focus on self-care. As they say on airplanes - put on your own oxygen mask first before helping another passenger.

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