There is currently no solid evidence showing that any doctor-led intervention is effective at preventing children and adolescents from using drugs other than tobacco, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force found.
Task force members could find only six good- or fair-quality studies of behavioral interventions for primary care physicians aimed at promoting abstinence among youths 18 and younger, or at stopping or reducing drug use.
Those trials failed to find a significant benefit for any of the programs tested, they wrote in their final statement, published Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine, in which they granted an “I” for “insufficient evidence” to such interventions.
The review focused on all kinds of recreational psychoactive drugs, including alcohol, prescription medications, and illicit drugs such as marijuana and cocaine. The interventions had to be designed for delivery in primary care settings. It excluded treatments for substance use disorders, as well as programs to be delivered in schools or by parents.
Interventions covered in the review included:
- Computer-based screening and education plus 2 to 3 minutes of advice from the patient’s clinician
- Interactive computer-based education
- Live therapist-delivered education
- At-home education for mothers and young teen daughters
“As a general pediatrician you help families understand that children pattern themselves after parents, so not smoking, not drinking to excess, and a mentality that not all mental hardship requires drug or medicinal intervention” help convey good messages to children, Steven Matson, MD, of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, said.
Matson said that it’s also important for doctors not to simply lecture kids about the evils of drugs. “Physicians need to concentrate on the health of the adolescent and not just come across as another adult telling them not to use drugs.”