Stories about: teenage drinking

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

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.

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Talking to your kids about new developments in Demi Lovato’s hospitalization

Have you been following the story of teen pop sensation Demi Lovato? According to reports Lovato recently dropped off a world tour because of “physical and emotional issues,” but sources close to the singer say a recent break up caused her to engage in risky behavior like drinking, drug use, as well as previously reported instances of cutting and an eating disorder. At the moment all reports are speculation, but that doesn’t mean her legions of teen and tween fans won’t be exposed to the story and have to process the information that their child idol is dealing with some very adult issues.

Last week media expert Michael Rich, MD, MPH, answered questions about how to talk to young Demi fans about the media coverage surrounding her condition, but in light of new developments in her story it seems appropriate we re-run the piece. In addition to Rich’s commentary, please click on the following links for information parents can use when talking to their children about the challenges Demi is facing, as well as the type of treatment that’s available to her.

Eating disorders; cutting and self-harm; drinking; drug use

Michael Rich, MD, MPH

Q: My 6-year-old adores singer/actress Demi Lovato: She watches her Disney Channel show, “Sonny with a Chance” (with supervision), listens to her albums, and went to see Demi as her first concert this summer. But now the media are reporting that Demi just checked into rehab for “physical and emotional issues” that may involve an eating disorder and cutting issues. My daughter shares a playground and bus ride with older kids who are bound to be talking about this. There’s almost no way we can keep her away from the story, so how do I even begin explaining concepts like rehab, eating disorders and cutting to a 6-year-old?

Star-Struck-Down Dad in Boston, MA

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