Doctors Gain Alcohol Use Screening Tool
One in three teens reports drinking before the end of eighth grade, with at least half having been drunk, according to data from National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. A new collaboration between the NIAAA and the American Academy of Pediatrics is prompting physicians to interview adolescent patients with a technique that may help prevent alcohol use or abuse in young people.
Children ages 9-11 are asked two questions:
- Do you have any friends who drank, beer, wine or any drink containing alcohol in the past year?
- Have you ever had more than a few sips of any drink containing alcohol?
Any drinking at this age puts children at the highest risk of problems later. (Alcohol use for religious purposes is excluded.)
For children ages 11-14, the first question is the same. The second question is:
- In the past year, on how many days have you had more than a few sips of any drink containing alcohol.
For high school students, ages 14-18, the questions are:
- In the past year, on how many days have you had more than a few sips of beer, wine or any drink containing alcohol?
- If your friends drink, how many drinks do they usually drink on an occasion?
A series of steps called "motivational interviewing" uses empathy and a nonjudgmental stance to facilitate communication and guide young people away from potentially harmful behaviors.
A pocket guide and comprehensive guide, "Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention for Youth: A Practitioners Guide" outline the program. For more information on teens and alcohol, or to order copies of the guides, go to www.niaaa.nih.gov/youthguide.