Case Study

Talking to Teens about Alcohol

While taking a medical history, you ask 16-year-old Randy about his use of alcohol. He says he does not drink because he needs to stay in shape to play running back on the football team. "But everyone keeps pressuring me to drink," he says. He admits he regularly rides in cars with his older brother's friends who drink and drive.

One recent night, he was in a car driven by a friend who had a fender bender. Another classmate was driving the other vehicle, so no one called the police or admitted to parents that alcohol was involved.

He has been invited to a drinking party on New Year’s Eve at the home of a friend whose parents will be out of town. Randy asks you whether one night of heavy drinking will affect his health.

portrait of teen boy
Patient
Randy
Sex
Male
Age
16 years

How should you respond?

Remind Randy about the high rate of drunken driving fatalities among adolescents and tell him he could end up as one of those fatal statistics, especially on New Year’s Eve when many people celebrate the holiday with a drink.

Inform Randy that you are legally obligated to report his friends’ behavior because they are endangering lives.

Ask Randy how he feels about his friends’ drinking and keep the discussion focused on how he can make healthy choices over a lifetime.

Tell Randy that one night of binge drinking could put him at risk for a lifetime of dangerous drinking behavior.

Related Texas Health Steps courses

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Learn the tools to integrate substance use screening and intervention into practice, employ current evidence-based models to manage patients who use substances or are in recovery, and refer patients.

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Introduction to Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment

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Adopt best practices for adolescent screening, including recommended schedules, effective communication, and enhanced clinical procedures. Includes video examples of effective screening techniques.

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