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New Tool Helps Pediatricians Talk to Teens About Alcohol Use

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A new tool created by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is designed to help pediatricians talk to teenagers about alcohol use.

The new tool, “Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention for Youth: A Practitioner’s Guide,” is needed because some pediatricians feel uncomfortable talking with their patients about alcohol, according to Dr. Sharon Levy, Chair of the AAP Committee on Substance Abuse.

The tool provides doctors with basic questions about whether and how much a patient drinks, and how much their friends drink, according to The Boston Globe.

“Routine screening and intervention for alcohol use in young people is critical to preventing the constellation of problems associated with adolescent drinking,” Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said in a news release.

The new tool provides a chart to help pediatricians respond to patients who say they or their friends drink. The chart helps the doctor determine how at risk for unhealthy consequences the patient may be, based on age and how much the patient drinks. The tool also provides recommendations for next steps, ranging from a discussion about the risks of alcohol use to referrals for follow-up treatment.

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