Stories about: underage drinking

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

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.

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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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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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