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John Knight

By reviewing a computer based screening on patient alcohol use, doctors can help reduce underage drinking according to a new study

Can a doctor really persuade a teenager not to use alcohol or drugs with a two or three minute intervention? The answer is “yes,” according to a new study in the journal Pediatrics.

Conducted by Sion Harris, PhD, CPH and her team at Boston Children’s Hospital’s Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research (CeASAR), the study demonstrates that a small effort on the part of patients and primary care physicians can go a long way in combating underage drinking.

“In just a few minutes we can make a significant impact in reducing teenage alcohol use,” says Harris. “By streamlining the alcohol screening process for clinicians and patients alike we can make the process easier and more efficient for everyone, which will yield more positive results.”

Teens in Harris’s study completed a five-minute computer-based survey, known as the CRAFFT, which asks six simple questions about alcohol and drug use. After the screening users are assigned a “score” and risk level based on their answers. They’re then directed to 10 illustrated pages of stories and science-based evidence about the serious health effects of alcohol and drug use. Full story »

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Fact or fiction: Today’s teenagers are more wild than ever

by Tripp Underwood on February 13, 2012

For decades, teenagers have gotten a pretty bad rap from the generations that came before them. The clothes, hairstyles and music may change, but the age-old notion of teenagers being wilder than ever before predates anyone old enough to have the thought. Complaining about wayward teens may be a parental cliché, but that’s only because it’s true, right?

Not so fast parents: According to a new study at the University of Michigan, today’s kids are actually a little more conservative than many of you were at their age. Full story »

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Marijuana use up among teenagers

by Tripp Underwood on December 16, 2011

Compared to 30 years ago, today’s teenagers are drinking and smoking less. If you’ve got a teenager those kinds of stats are encouraging news, but unfortunately it’s too early to let your guard down completely. According to a new study more kids are using marijuana than before and start smoking at a younger age. The cause of the spike is still unclear, but John R. Knight, MD, director of Children’s Hospital Boston’s Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research(CeASAR), says mixed messages about pot’s dangers are likely to play a role.

Troubling Trend: Teen Pot Use:

Have you found drugs in your child’s room and are unsure what to do? Here’s more advice from Dr. Knight.

To learn more about how marijuana’s softening reputation could impact your kids, read this interview with Dr. Knight. If you are concerned about your child’s substance use, contact a member of Dr. Knight’s team for help in scheduling an appointment.

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Could monitoring Facebook impact drinking in college?

by Tripp Underwood on October 12, 2011

A new study published in Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine suggests that the majority of college students who post on Facebook about drunkenness and dangerous drinking habits are also at a higher risk for alcohol abuse and dependence.

The message seems fairly obvious, but the real interesting takeaway of the study is the researchers’ suggestions about how that information could be used. Full story »

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Boston launches anti-underage drinking campaign. Is it enough?

by Boston Children's Hospital staff on January 5, 2011

John Knight, MD

On your way to work this morning you many have noticed a billboard or ad on the T, informing parents about the danger—and prevalence— of underage drinking. The signage is part of the “We Don’t Serve Teens” campaign, a national program urging parents and other adults to be more proactive in stopping underage drinking. Boston is the first to launch the campaign citywide, and with good reason; underage drinking is declining nationally but remains a very persistent problem here, particularly among the large number of college students who call the city home for nine months out of the year.

Educating adults about the dangers of underage drinking is no coincidence either. According to a national government survey 69 percent of underage drinkers get their alcohol from older family or friends. Clearly some of the people providing this alcohol, whether they do it knowingly or not, aren’t aware of how serious a problem underage drinking really is. Full story »


Talking to your teen about Four Loko

by Boston Children's Hospital staff on November 8, 2010

The alcoholic energy drink Four Loko has been in the news lately because of its high alcohol content and popularity with young drinkers. Here John Knight, MD, director of Children’s Hospital Boston’s Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research(CeASAR), comments on how parents can talk to their teens about the potential danger of Four Loko.

John Knight, MD

If you read the papers or watched the news this weekend there’s a good chance you saw media coverage about the alcoholic energy drink Four Loko, which has been making headlines for its role in the hospitalization of college students, prompting local universities to issue warnings about its potency and was even banned by the state of Michigan. According to reports, the product’s high alcohol content has earned nicknames like “blackout in a can” or “liquid cocaine.” Full story »

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Study links R rated movies and teen drinking

by Tripp Underwood on May 13, 2010

A study released in the May issue of Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs suggests children whose parents restrict access to R rated movies are considerably less likely to try alcohol than peers of the same age who are allowed to see restricted films.

As seen in this interview, John Knight, MD, director at the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research (CeASAR) at Children’s Hospital Boston isn’t surprised at the study’s findings.

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AAP: Docs needed in the fight to stop teen drinking

by Tripp Underwood on April 20, 2010


John Knight, MD

Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a policy statement calling on pediatricians nationwide to be knowledgeable about teenage drinking, preventative measures to stop it and treatment options for adolescent substance abuse. The statement included information on how alcohol can interfere with the developing teenage brain, and the strong correlation between early alcohol consumption and alcoholism later in life.

John Knight, MD, director at the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research (CeASAR) at Children’s Hospital Boston, says both parents and pediatricians should do more to combat adolescent alcohol use— especially in the coming months as the weather gets warmer and the prom/graduation season starts for many of the country’s teenagers.

“We have data that suggest if doctors spend if one or two minutes discussing the negative effects of alcohol with their adolescent patients, there is a dramatic decrease in the number of kids who start drinking. You can reduce the prevalence of drinking from 40 percent to 20 percent,” he says.

“But parents have a lot of influence over their children too, even if they think they don’t, and therefore they need to set a model of behavior, especially with younger kids.” Full story »

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