Stories about: teenagers and drugs

Brief screening during doctor visit can dramatically reduce teenage drinking

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.

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The dangers of drug sharing

How accessible are the medications in your house?

A new survey shows that as many as one in seven Massachusetts parents have given their kids prescription painkillers that weren’t prescribed to them. Considering how dangerous a practice this is, those numbers are pretty shocking. Remember waiting in line for coffee this morning? If this survey is accurate then at least one of the people in front of you may have risked their child’s life to alleviate discomfort.

“There’s no question that in some cases this type of behavior could be fatal,” says Lois Lee, MD, MPH, an emergency medicine physician at Children’s Hospital Boston. “Any time you give adult strength medication to a child you increase the chance of an unintentional overdose.”

Taking prescription medication without a doctor’s approval is dangerous for anyone, but the risks are far greater for children. The dosage of most painkillers are based on the size of the patient, so what’s considered a mild painkiller for a full grown adult can have a much more pronounced effect on a child.

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Sleep deprivation in teens: risky business?

Like toothpaste and orange juice, teenagers and 6 a.m. usually make for a bad morning combination. Between the threats of missed buses to the walking dead shuffle from the bedroom to the bathroom, mornings can seem like a nightmare for many households with teens. But with so many sleep-deprived teenagers staying awake until all hours of the night, this dreaded morning ritual comes as no surprise to most parents.

If your teenager is constantly staying up too late and is hard to mobilize in the morning, at least you’re not alone. A new study from the Centers for Disease Control indicates that two third of American teens aren’t getting enough sleep. This may not surprise many parents, but the study’s real take home message is that researchers are now linking sleep deprivation to something far more troubling than morning crankiness: Teens who get less than eight hours of sleep a night may be more likely to drink, use drugs, indulge in inappropriate sexual behavior, be depressed and lead an unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle.

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Can love fight underage substance abuse?

Study shows young couples less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol than single peers.
Study shows young couples less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol than single peers.

When reminiscing about our first relationships, many of us tend to romanticize the past: stolen glances, first dates, first kisses and so on. Now, new research shows that young love may account for more than sweet memories; it may make young adults less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol.

According to a study recently published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, which followed close to 1,000 people from grade school through young adulthood, people in their late teens and early 20s in committed relationships are almost 40 percent less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol than their single or multi-dating peers.

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