Children's Hospital Colorado

Substance Abuse in Adolescence (S3:E21)

Substance use among adolescents is pervasive, with primary care pediatricians commonly encountering it in practice. According to the most recent Monitoring the Future Study published in 2018, marijuana use and opioid misuse among teens remains stable while vaping device use is climbing to record numbers.

The general approach to the assessment and treatment of adolescents with substance use disorders is similar in some respects to adults. However, developmental considerations require an approach tailored to the cognitive, social and legal status of adolescents.

Listen to a psychiatrist discuss adolescent substance abuse

In this episode, we discuss the epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, course, assessment and diagnosis of substance use and substance use disorder in adolescents with Christian Thurstone, MD.

Dr. Thurstone is the Director of Behavioral and Health Sciences at Denver Health and Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado Denver.

In this episode a psychiatric expert discusses:

  • The common occurrence of teenage substance abuse and some current statistics
  • Risk factors to be aware of for prevention, identification and intervention
  • Protective factors that contribute to a lower likelihood of using damaging substances
  • How to approach typical adolescents when risk factors are not obvious
  • Dealing with parents who want to conduct a drug test without a child's consent
  • Resources, treatment and counseling: the role of the pediatrician in ongoing care
  • Opioid pain medications and the overdose epidemic that we currently face
  • Family dynamics and dealing with the array of emotions through empathy

Resources discussed in this episode:

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