This story was originally published in YouthToday.org. It is authored by Alexa Eggleston, a senior program officer, domestic programs at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.
In the first two years of our work to advance new approaches to prevent and reduce substance use among youth and young adults, a key finding we often share surprises most people: Young people actually think health care practitioners should talk to them about alcohol and drugs.
Unfortunately, most health care providers do not screen their adolescent patients for substance use as part of routine clinical care. And no, we aren’t talking about the “Just Say No” approach of the ‘80s and ‘90s, but a new approach based in the research literature that frames substance use as a health issue.
Just as health care practitioners counsel young people about other health matters — like the importance of eating right, exercise and safe sex — there is a new movement to apply these same strategies to discuss the negative impact that alcohol and drugs can have on their health, relationships and other things that matter to them.