Stories about: teen substance abuse

Could better substance abuse screening during doctor visits reduce underage drinking?

In today’s busy medical environment, doctors are asked to do a lot in a short amount of time. The average well visit clocks in at somewhere around 12 minutes these days, which means pediatricians need to screen children for several potential problems in a very finite amount of time.

Because of these time restrictions there simply isn’t enough time to do all the screenings recommended as part of general health care. One area that often gets overlooked is substance abuse among adolescent patients.

Data suggests that many physicians do not routinely broach the topic of alcohol and drug use with their teen patients because there isn’t enough time to bring the subject up, or they don’t always know what to do when a screen suggests a patient may have a problem.

To make the process easier on time starved doctors, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Addiction (NIAAA) and the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) have both released screening and brief intervention guidelines that will help physicians choose valid screening tools and clearly explain when to suggest appropriate interventions for their patients.

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Could monitoring Facebook impact drinking in college?

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.

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When care requires more than simple answers

When teenagers stonewall adults, there can be many issues leading to the behavior

By Sarah Teasdale, MD, EdM pediatric hospitalist at Children’s Hospital Boston

It was near midnight about a year ago when I noticed a gaunt young man in his early twenties walking toward me in the Emergency Department. It was a young man who, about a decade earlier, had threatened to kill me.

For nearly ten years prior to becoming a physician I was a high school teacher. That particular July, I was teaching English in summer school for students who had failed the class during the regular school year. It was a group of 15 surly teenagers ages 14 to 19, beaten down by a system in which they could not—or chose not—to succeed.

The young man—I’ll call him Andre—was my student that summer. He was a gangly, thin 15-year-old who often wore the same ill-fitting clothes day after day, rarely made eye contact and showed a level of fatigue in the early morning that was extreme, even for a teenager. Whenever I tried to talk to him, he would simply say he was “a’right.” He meant: Stop asking.

So I stopped asking. In doing so, I lost a chance to help him.

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Does the medical community do enough to reach out to LGBT youth?

Sexual minority youth are nine times more likely to harbor suicidal thoughts than their counterparts

Adolescence can be a difficult time, even for teenagers who seem extremely well-adjusted. Physical and hormonal changes are hard enough to deal with, but when you add feelings of isolation and loneliness to the mix, it can make the whole process that much worse. Sadly this is reality for many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) teens. But a new study in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing shows positive attitudes from family members towards LGBT teens reduces their risk for depression, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse and often results in the formation of healthier relationships in adulthood.

Sounds like good— if not a tad obvious— information for parents of LGBT kids, but as pointed out by Scott Leibowitz, MD, of Children’s Hospital Boston’s Department of Psychiatry, it’s important knowledge for any adult who interacts with kids, not just the parents of openly gay or transgender children.

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