Pediatricians are in an ideal position to influence their patients’ decision to use or abuse alcohol and other drugs. By regularly addressing substance use during routine office visits, pediatricians have the opportunity to positively affect the lives of patients, their families and generations to come.

Following are answers to questions pediatricians may have about broaching the subject with patients:

Substance use and abuse harm individuals of all ages from all segments of society and in all communities. Many traffic accidents, as well as much of the violence, trauma and crime that occur involve substance use in some way.

Even a brief mention of substance use by a physician can be an effective prevention message and can motivate patients to stop their drug use. One or two sentences can dispel myths such as: “most teens smoke” or “most successful athletes use steroids.”

Statements can remind a teen not to drink and...

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