Substance use among adolescents with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis

Arthritis Care Res. 1998 Oct;11(5):391-6. doi: 10.1002/art.1790110510.


Objective: To determine the prevalence of substance use among adolescents with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and to assess available opportunities for rheumatologists to identify high risk teens.

Methods: Fifty-two teens (mean age 13.9 years, 86% female) completed questionnaires regarding substance use (alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and other illicit substances), functional disability, and frequency of health care contacts.

Results: Alcohol use was reported by 30.7% of teens, including 23.5% of those for whom methotrexate was prescribed; 15.4% reported tobacco use in the last year, and 13.4% reported other illicit substance use in their lifetime, although most use was experimental. No teen reported marijuana use. The majority reported regular contact with their rheumatologist but only 26.9% were ever interviewed alone.

Conclusion: Many teens with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, including those prescribed methotrexate, used substances, especially alcohol. When rheumatologists see adolescents, particularly in situations where methotrexate may be prescribed, a clinical setting conductive to confidentially, physician comfort in asking about sensitive topics such as substance abuse, and referral relationships with skilled adolescent health and substance abuse counseling providers are essential.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adolescent
  • Arthritis, Juvenile / complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sampling Studies
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Substance-Related Disorders / prevention & control
  • Surveys and Questionnaires