USPSTF looks at interventions for kids’ drug use

March 20, 2014

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recently weighed in on whether primary care behavioral interventions are effective in reducing use of illicit drugs and pharmaceuticals for nonmedical reasons in children and adolescents.

 

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recently weighed in on whether primary care behavioral interventions are effective in reducing use of illicit drugs and pharmaceuticals for nonmedical reasons in children and adolescents.

Its finding? The current evidence is insufficient to say whether such interventions either reduce drug use (and, thereby, improve health outcomes in children and teenagers) or reduce initiation of drug use in kids aged up to 18 years. The Task Force also found no evidence regarding the use of such behavioral interventions in children aged younger than 11 years. 

The recent statement updates a 2008 version and applies to children and teenagers who have not been diagnosed with a substance use disorder. Those who have should receive appropriate treatment, the report says.

The interventions that the researchers considered were face-to-face counseling, videos, print materials, and interactive computer-based tools.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 4,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17 years use drugs for the first time each day in the United States, and almost 1 in every 10 adolescents reports being a current illicit drug user.

A report issued by the University of Michigan found that in 2012, almost 5% of 8th, 10th, and 12th grade students used over-the-counter cough and/or cold remedies during the past year for nonmedical reasons.

Although USPSTF members admit that the harms of such behavioral interventions are probably small to none, the evidence does not support any benefits. They advise primary care physicians to consider, when deciding whether to use them, the potential preventable burden, costs, potential harms, and the constraints of their current practice.


 

 

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