|Q||What about changes in the drug culture?|
There has been an increase in the abuse of over-the-counter, prescription and performance enhancing drugs. Recent advances in the medical management of chronic pain, depression,
attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and anxiety have led to treatments with medications which have potential for abuse and dependence. We need to
maximize the safe and effective treatment of these illnesses, while preventing the diversion of prescribed medications or the development of substance-related disorders in teens receiving them. Also, the number of teen athletes using
performance-enhancing drugs is increasing. All pre-teen and teen athletes should be screened for the use of these drugs and educated about safe and healthy means of performance enhancement, such as practice and strength training.
|Q||What other health issues affect teens?|
The incidence of Type 2 diabetes has been increasing at an alarming rate in children and adolescents. Obesity is a common cause of insulin resistance in adolescents. We must encourage teens to engage in dietary modification and regular exercise, as well as screen for other cardiovascular risk factors (hypertension, hyperlipidemia, etc). Technology-related health issues have also increased, including cyber-bullying, internet predatory behaviors, and social networking problem behaviors.
|Q||How early should an intervention begin when it comes to adolescent HIV/STIs, partner violence, depression and other health issues?|
Efforts to prevent youth interpersonal violence can begin in childhood. It is never too early to teach children how to treat and respect each other. Many young people begin to have romantic interests as young as 10 or 11 and often do not recognize emotional and verbal abuse by their romantic interest as being unhealthy.
HIV/STI prevention programs can begin as early as 11 or 12. As an adolescent service, we regularly screen for depression and anxiety, as well as many of the other behaviors that lead to unhealthy outcomes, such as high-risk sexual activity, smoking, alcohol consumption, the use of drugs, sexual/physical abuse, etc.
|Q||Are the health issues and concerns of inner city teens different from those of suburban teens?|
While the incidence of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia may be higher in the suburbs, and the incidence of teen obesity may be higher in the inner city, many of the developmental and medical issues are the same. All adolescents must go through the same psychosocial developmental tasks on their journey to adulthood. These tasks include achieving independence from parents and establishing their functional, sexual, ego, moral and vocational identities.