Universal Teen Substance Use Approach Recommended

Pediatricians should recommend screening, brief intervention, and/or referral to treatment

MONDAY, Oct. 31 (HealthDay News) -- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends implementing universal screening for substance use, brief intervention, and/or referral to treatment (SBIRT) in order to help pediatricians treat substance use in adolescents, according to a scientific statement published online Oct. 31 in Pediatrics.

Sharon J.L. Levy, M.D., and Patricia K. Kokotailo, M.D., from the Committee on Substance Abuse, addressed the challenges posed to practitioners by the spectrum of pediatric substance users. They presented an approach to increase pediatrician's confidence related to screening, brief interventions, and referral to treatment within the primary care setting.

The authors reported that, while developing and maintaining a trusting patient care relationship, pediatricians should reinforce a nonuse message through clear information presented to patients, parents, and other family members. Universal SBIRT should become part of routine health care. Recommendations for pediatricians include that they should become familiar with all aspects of SBIRT through ongoing medical education and they should find out about the spectrum of substance use and patterns of drug use in their practice area. Pediatricians should ensure appropriate confidentiality, including exchange of substance use and treatment information. They should screen all adolescents with a validated screening tool, and respond to results with appropriate brief intervention. Where necessary, they should facilitate patient referrals for appropriate treatment. Pediatricians must be aware that psychiatric disorders can co-occur in adolescents who use substances. In addition, they should advocate for provision of mental health and substance use services across the pediatric ages and developmental stages.

"This statement reviews recommended referral guidelines that are based on established patient-treatment-matching criteria and the risk level for substance abuse," the authors write.

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