Adolescent binge drinking issues

07/05/05

During a web-based CME conference on June 14th, two of the nation's leading experts on substance abuse and toxicology presented the latest information on adolescent binge drinking. The conference was co-sponsored by the American College of Preventive Medicine and Medscape/WebMD. A free archive of the session is now available online at www.medscape.com.

Dr. Robin B. McFee of Emergistics US, Inc., and Dr. Michael M. Miller of the NewStart Alcohol/Drug Treatment Program at Meriter Hospital, delivered presentations and answered audience questions. Dr. George Lundberg, Editor-in-Chief of Medscape General Medicine, moderated the session. The conference provided critical information for practicing physicians, public health officials, and other front-line health providers who provide primary care and substance abuse treatment to adolescents, as well as to those who are concerned with the health and social implications of adolescent binge drinking.

The conference featured an overview of the epidemiology of binge drinking, including use patterns and trends, and the risks associated with this type of substance use. Participants also learned that approximately 75% of adolescent morbidity and mortality is associated with behavioral health risks, of which a large portion can be attributed to substance and alcohol use.

Dr. Miller, highlighting the impact of alcohol use and addiction on adolescent brain development, noted that "Some of the evidence…suggests that there may not be any safe levels of alcohol consumption for kids because of how sensitive the developing adolescent brain is to alcohol, especially in binge amounts." In describing clinical approaches to addressing the problem, Dr. McFee stressed the importance of age-appropriate adolescent health services and building rapport with adolescent patients. By using the 5 A's (anticipate, ask, advise, assist, arrange) method at every office visit, clinicians can build trust and assess an adolescents risk profile.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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