Pediatricians should warn patients about alcohol abuse



Can you imagine your 13-year old daughter sipping a margarita? Or your 15-year old son downing a pint of beer? It seems unimaginable but it is more common than we think. During the last couple years, there have been more and more cases of teenagers collapsing following binge drinking, some even falling into alcohol-induced coma or dying.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is urging pediatric doctors to discourage their patients to consume alcohol. This is according to the latest policy statement issued by the AAP. The reasons for this call may seem obvious but here are some things we should be aware of:

Adolescent alcohol consumption:

But hey, how can teenagers get access to alcohol? That’s what the alcohol age limit is for, right?

Unfortunately, there are lots of ways and means by which teenager can cheat or get around alcohol legislations.

False ID. Having a false ID is the most common way by which teens get access to alcohol. The IDs are for sale on the streets and a large proportion of urban teens have them.

Loopholes in the legislation. Alcohol legislations are full of loopholes. Here are some examples:

  • In Switzerland, teens are not allowed to enter clubs and other establishments where alcohol us served. There is, however, a loophole: they can, if they are accompanied by an adult, somebody who is at least 18 years old. In other words, a group of teens would only need one fake ID to get into these places. Once they are in, access to alcohol gets easier.
  • In the US, some states have lower age limit than others. Thus, young people can cross statelines and get drunk there legally.

Alcohol at home. Finally, the easiest way for teens to get access to alcohol is by raiding dad ‘s or mom’s stock.  In the UK, even children have alcohol if supervised by an adult at home. Unfortunately, the term “supervision” is not clearly defined by law, leaving its implementation at the discretion of the parents.

Finally, here are some statistics from the Center of Disease Prevention and Control (CDC):

The new AAP policy statement indicates that parental guidance on alcohol may not be enough, that inputs from health care professionals, especially primary care physicians, may curb the growing teenage alcohol problem.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.
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