Alcohol use by youth and adolescents: a pediatric concern

Pediatrics. 2010 May;125(5):1078-87. doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-0438. Epub 2010 Apr 12.


Alcohol use continues to be a major problem from preadolescence through young adulthood in the United States. Results of recent neuroscience research have substantiated the deleterious effects of alcohol on adolescent brain development and added even more evidence to support the call to prevent and reduce underaged drinking. Pediatricians should be knowledgeable about substance abuse to be able to recognize risk factors for alcohol and other substance abuse among youth, screen for use, provide appropriate brief interventions, and refer to treatment. The integration of alcohol use prevention programs in the community and our educational system from elementary school through college should be promoted by pediatricians and the health care community. Promotion of media responsibility to connect alcohol consumption with realistic consequences should be supported by pediatricians. Additional research into the prevention, screening and identification, brief intervention, and management and treatment of alcohol and other substance use by adolescents continues to be needed to improve evidence-based practices.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Alcoholism / diagnosis
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Education
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Physician's Role*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking Prevention
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / prevention & control
  • Young Adult


  • Illicit Drugs