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Pediatr Ann. 2006 Mar;35(3):193-9.

Adolescent drug & alcohol use in the 21st century.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Robert C. Byrd Health Science Center, West Virginia University School of Medicine, Morgantown 26505, USA.


Screening for drug abuse should be a part of adolescent health maintenance visits. Good interviewing skills using open-ended, nonjudgmental questions in a private setting may elicit a history of drug abuse. A detailed and comprehensive history is important to recognize family dynamics, early behavioral changes (Table 5, see page 198), comorbid psychiatric conditions, and the adolescent's attitude toward substances of abuse. A good physical exam may reveal clinical sequelae of drug abuse. Testing for drug abuse should be done with the patient's consent except in cases where judgment is impaired. Periodic screening for drugs is a part of drug treatment and rehabilitation. The typical pediatrician is not equipped to provide drug counseling and treatment to the abusing adolescent. Specialized referral centers would be ideal, and clinicians need to be aware of local resources in their communities. Anticipatory guidance explaining the ill effects of drugs is mandatory. Prevention should be aimed at increasing public awareness of the consequences of drug abuse, improving parenting techniques, and introducing school-based drug prevention programs. The fight against substance abuse needs to be a community effort in which the individual, the family and the primary care physician play important roles.

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