Impact of Pediatric Substance Misuse
Adolescent substance use has a great impact on patient health and well-being. Alcohol use impairs adolescent growth and development and can be associated with risk taking behaviors, such as unprotected sex, intoxicated driving and other behaviors.
Alcohol and the Developing Brain
During adolescence, areas of the brain associated with emotional responses and reward systems
develop before those associated with executive functioning, judgement, and decision making. Therefore, adolescents are more likely to engage in risky and impulsive behaviors.
Alcohol use has been found to have a neurotoxic effect on the brain nd may damage the frontal lobe, cerebellum and the limbic system. Alcohol use may disrupt normal brain development impacting:
- Critical Thinking
- Impulse Control
- Emotional Regulation
- Decision Making
Preventing or delaying substance use in youth reduces the risk for substance use disorders and abuse in adulthood.
Substance Misuse and Psychiatric Comorbidity
Alcohol interferes with many physiological processes that can destabilize mood resulting in risk of depression, aggression, violence, and suicide.
Determining the number of days your patient has consumed alcohol in the past year will assist in assessing the patient’s risk level.
When talking to youth about alcohol, it is important as primary care providers, to dispel any myths they have about alcohol consumption. Below are some examples you may hear from youth. Click on the picture to learn the facts, debunk the myths and educate youth about the impact alcohol has on the body and brain. (Adapted from collegedrinking.gov)
Kaminer Y, Connor DF, Curry JF. Comorbid Adolescent Substance Use and Major Depressive Disorders: A Review. Psychiatry (Edgmont). 2007;4(12):32-43.
DeWit, David J. Ph.D.; Adlaf, Edward M. Ph.D.; Offord, David R. M.D.; Ogborne, Alan C. Ph.D. Age at First Alcohol Use: A Risk Factor for the Development of Alcohol Disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry. 157(5):745-750, May 2000.
- Jones, C., Clayton, H., Deputy, N., Roehler, D., Ko, J., Esser, M., Brookmeyer, K., & Hertz, M. (2020). Prescription Opioid Misuse and Use of Alcohol and Other Substances Among High School Students — Youth Risk Behavior Survey, United States, 2019. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Supplement, 69(1), 38–46. https://doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.su6901a5.
- Eskander, N., Prabhudesai, S., Imran, H., Ceren Amuk, O., & Patel, R. (2020). Alcohol Use Disorder Increases Risk of Traumatic Brain Injury-Related Hospitalization: Insights From 3.8 Million Children and Adolescent Inpatients. Curēus (Palo Alto, CA), 12(6), e8740–e8740. ttps://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.8740.