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October 12, 1984

Treating the Intoxicated Adolescent: A Need for Comprehensive Services

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison (Dr Stephenson); the Adolescent Alcohol/Drug Abuse Intervention Program, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics (Dr Stephenson and Ms Daniels); and the Department of Sociology (Mr Moberg) and the School of Social Work (Dr Robertson), University of Wisconsin-Madison. Ms Daniels is now with the Outpatient Psychiatry Department, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics.

JAMA. 1984;252(14):1884-1888. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350140030020

Intoxicated adolescents seen in hospital emergency departments are frequently treated for their immediate complaints, but fail to have follow-up assessments for underlying alcohol/drug abuse and/or psychosocial problems. We undertook a prospective study of 171 acutely intoxicated adolescents (12 to 18 years of age) admitted to the emergency department of the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, Madison. A comparison group randomly selected from the community demonstrated that the emergency department patients were at a significantly higher risk for alcohol and polydrug abuse and psychological dependency. To adequately serve this potentially high-risk group, follow-up assessment must be done, including the gathering of in-depth information regarding legal, psychosocial, and alcohol/drug use status. This study indicates that the general hospital, with its 24-hour emergency department services and other resources, can play a vital role not only in the crisis management of intoxicated adolescents, but in their follow-up, assessment, and, when indicated, appropriate referral for treatment.

(JAMA 1984;252:1884-1888)