A new study finds high school students who use alcohol, marijuana or nicotine are more likely than their peers who don’t use these substances to have suicidal thoughts.
Researchers analyzed survey results from more than 15,000 high school students in Massachusetts in 2022 and 2023. They thoughts of suicide were five times more prevalent among teens who used substances daily or near daily compared with those who did not.
They were also more likely to feel anxious or depressed, have psychotic episodes or exhibit symptoms of ADHD, HealthDay reports. The researchers noted increases in psychiatric symptoms occurred even among students with relatively low levels of substance use.
The results “lend strong support for the notion that screening, prevention, intervention and policy efforts need to comprehensively address targets beyond substance use alone,” such as the mental health impacts of substance use, lead study author Brenden Tervo-Clemmens said in a news release. “Also, these efforts may not need to necessarily be specific to a given substance, but rather reflect the multifaceted mental health needs of all adolescents who use substances.”