February 1984

Drugs, Drinking, and Adolescence

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, University of South Florida College of Medicine, Tampa.

Am J Dis Child. 1984;138(2):117-125. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1984.02140400003001

• Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, most physicians do not want to believe that a drug epidemic involving children from all socioeconomic classes across the country is in progress. Prevention efforts are hindered by massive denial at all levels—societal, medical, and parental. Reasons for this denial are many; among them are misconceptions about the risks of experimentation and effectiveness of drug treatment programs, and a tendency to view drug abuse as a moral rather than a health problem. The use of alcohol and other drugs is closely related to rising mortality in older adolescents, for whom the leading causes of death are accidents, suicide, and homicide. The leading causes of disability in this age range are chemical dependency and impairments related to accidents. Chemical dependency, which has trapped millions of children, is best regarded as a progressive, contagious disease that causes serious problems for young people, their families, and society. Pediatricians, well skilled in preventive medicine, must address more seriously this epidemic killer and disabler of young people whose care has been entrusted to them.

(AJDC 1984;138:117-125)