Six out of 10 pediatricians report having diagnosed or treated adolescent patients ages 12 through 17 for substance abuse, according to a 1995 AAP Periodic Survey of Fellows. Among this group of pediatricians, nearly three-fourths have identified adolescent patients who are abusing tobacco and/or alcohol (72 percent and 70 percent, respectively). Sixty-three percent have diagnosed or treated adolescents for marijuana use, and 53 percent reported adolescents' use of other illegal drugs.
When asked about their methods of screening or diagnosing substance abuse, less than one-half of pediatricians (45 percent) report they always ask their adolescent patients about alcohol or drug use, while 50 percent ask some adolescents about substance use. Sixty percent of pediatricians make inquiries of parents, siblings, school personnel or others when screening some adolescents for substance abuse; 10 percent do so with all adolescents. Most pediatricians (84 percent) do not use written questionnaires that inquire about adolescent patients' substance use; 10 percent use questionnaires with some, and 5 percent do so with all of their adolescent patients.