Pediatricians Can Help Prevent Teen Substance Abuse

A new study suggests that teens that undergo a five-minute computer screening program pertaining to their alcohol and drug use may reduce their risks for drinking for up to a year.

It was found out by a group of researchers from the Boston Children’s Hospital that kids who talk to their pediatricians after the computer screening tool decreased their risks for drinking by almost 50% for the first three months after their doctor’s visit.

drinkingDr. John Knight from the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research at the Boston Children’s Hospital confirmed that previous studies have proven that screening and immediate intervention create a big positive impact among college students on alcohol and drug issues, but this is the first time they are able to have the computer screening and intervention program on the adolescent population.

“It’s important to get pediatricians involved, because we know 70 percent of high school seniors have started to drink, and almost 60 percent have started to use drugs, but there are few specialists available to deal with early intervention with teens,” he said.

It has been noted that most teens are able to visit their pediatricians every year for their physical examination requirements. This gives them the opportunity to talk about their substance abuse problems knowing their secrets are safe with their doctors, thereby making them listen more to their doctors than to their parents. “Since substance abuse kills more teenagers than infectious disease, parents should view this screening as another important vaccination,” Dr. Knight added.

Yet there are also obstacles that pediatricians face when talking to teenagers and their issues. For one, they don’t have the luxury of time due to the fact that there are a lot of patients with numerous factors to screen for. Another one is that once they screen teens for substance abuse, some doctors don’t know how to deal with patients who test positive and admit to the dangerous habits.

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