It’s no secret that alcohol abuse is common amongst adolescents. What is surprising is that this group often gets overlooked by physicians when it comes to identifying and treating underage and problematic drinking.
A new study covered in a National Institutes of Health (NIH) article unveiled that only a little more than half of the 80 percent of high school sophomores surveyed who had recently seen their doctor said there had a been a discussion surrounding alcohol.
Researchers from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) in conjunction with the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development polled over 2,500 random sophomores to learn more about adolescent drinking behavior and the level of underage screening.
While more than a third of students admitted to consuming alcohol during the month preceding the survey, only 40 percent were informed about dangers associated with the drug. More than a quarter also confessed to binge drinking.
According to Dr. Kenneth R. Warren, acting director of NIAAA, alcohol is a favorite amongst today’s youth. Research also shows that preemptive screenings aimed at identifying alcohol abuse can result in reduced consumption and fewer alcohol-induced problems later in life. Evidence suggests this type of intervention would be well-suited to adolescents because of the great number of underage drinkers.
Study authors underscore the importance of making alcohol screening a regular part of young patient care. To help in this process, NIAAA in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics developed a two-question assessment that addresses past-year drinking behaviors of a patient’s friends and alcohol consumption of the patient over the same period.
By asking these two simple questions, providers can improve negative outcomes associated with adolescent drinking and change lives for the better.