Finding the words to begin an alcohol use discussion can be difficult, yet pediatric experts agree such guidance must begin early and be done often. But what exactly do you say?

"We pediatricians not infrequently bury our heads in the sand about touchy problems like alcohol abuse," said Hyman Tolmas, M.D., FAAP, a member of the AAP Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health. Many health care providers simply" don't want to tackle the issue, because it's time-consuming and basically a lot of them don't want to open this can of worms."

There are some brief, in-office "interventions" that physicians can use when questioning their patients and/or parents. These scenarios can be as short as a three-question screen or as long as a rehearsed 5-minute anti-alcohol dialogue. What's important is formalizing an approach, and being ready with it when needed.

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