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Pediatr Emerg Care. 2005 Nov;21(11):770-6.

Adolescent substance use: brief interventions by emergency care providers.

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Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, MCH Leadership Education in Adolescent Health, Children's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA. pamela.burke@children'


Use of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs plays a major role in adolescent morbidity and mortality. When under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, adolescents are at increased risk for injuries, unprotected sex, or interpersonal violence. Alcohol and other drugs are major factors in adolescent deaths, contributing to motor vehicle crashes, homicides, and suicides. Adolescents tend to have shorter substance use histories therefore they often experience emergency/acute care health treatment resulting from substance use related trauma and/or overdose. Substance use screening of adolescents who present to an Emergency Department (ED) is vitally important. The CRAFFT is a valid and reliable screening tool that was developed for use with adolescents. If an adolescent screens positive, then the next step is to determine their stage of use and readiness for change in preparation for doing a brief intervention. Helping patients to recognize the potential relation between their substance use and health related consequences, may motivate them to decrease their use for harm reduction. Motivational interviewing is an effective, evidence-based approach to helping people change their high risk behavior.

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