This report assessed the proportion of US 10th graders (average age, 16) who saw a physician in the past year and were asked and given advice about their drinking. We hypothesized that advice would vary by whether students were asked about drinking and their drinking, bingeing, and drunkenness frequency.
A nationally representative sample of 10th graders in 2010 (N = 2519) were asked their past 30-day frequency of drinking, bingeing, and intoxication and whether, during their last medical examination, their drinking was explored and they received advice about alcohol's risks and reducing or stopping.
In the past month, 36% reported drinking, 28% reported bingeing, and 23% reported drunkenness (11%, 5%, and 7%, respectively, 6 or more times). In the past year, 82% saw a doctor. Of that group, 54% were asked about drinking, 40% were advised about related harms, and 17% were advised to reduce or stop. Proportions seeing a doctor and asked about drinking were similar across drinking patterns. Respondents asked about drinking were more often advised to reduce or stop. Frequent drinkers, bingers, and those drunk were more often advised to reduce or stop. Nonetheless, only 25% of them received that advice from physicians. In comparison, 36% of frequent smokers, 27% of frequent marijuana users, and 42% of frequent other drug users were advised to reduce or quit those behaviors.
Efforts are warranted to increase the proportion of physicians who follow professional guidelines to screen and counsel adolescents about unhealthy alcohol use and other behaviors that pose health risks.