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Pediatric Substance Misuse

Pediatric Substance Misuse

Alcohol remains the substance most frequently used by children and adolescents in the United States. In the most recent survey from the CDC Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), approximately one in three Illinois high school students reported currently drinking alcohol.  The data comes from a cross sectional, biennial, school-based survey of 9th-12th grade students in the United States that monitors the prevalence of health risk behaviors.

Drug and alcohol use are strongly associated with the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in adolescence (National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2014).

Role of Primary Care Providers Heading link

Role of Primary Care Providers

Primary care providers are uniquely positioned to impact pediatric substance use by:

  • Providing anticipatory guidance for parents and youth
  • Screening at least annually
  • Intervention
  • Motivational Interviewing

Anticipatory guidance for parents

  • Explore the family’s value system about alcohol and drug use
  • Explore how parents will handle any experimentation by their children
  • Create a plan with the parents for when their children may be first exposed to drugs and alcohol with peers
  • Strengthen parents’ management skills from reactive behaviors to proactive solutions

Anticipatory guidance for pediatric patients

  • Explore the patients’ value system about alcohol and drug use
  • Talk about the high incidence of drug and alcohol misuse in childhood and adolescence
  • Educate patients about the value of abstinence
Family Factors

Graphic of family factors that increase adolescent substance misuse

Learn More: Heading link

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References Heading link

1. Johnston LD, O’Malley PM, Bachman JG, Schulenberg JE. (2012). Monitoring the Future: National Survey Results on Drug Use,1975–2012, Vol. I: Secondary School Students. Ann Arbor, MI: Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan.
2. YRSB data accessed via: