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AAP: Docs needed in the fight to stop teen drinking

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.”

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