Risky drinking seems to be very popular among young people in Europe. The presentation will discuss if primary care physicians might play some role in preventing alcohol-related harm such as severe intoxications, accidents, injuries, violence, risky sexual behaviour, depression, suicidal tendencies, progression to dependency, or impairment of developmental processes.
Adolescents’ stated reasons for consuming alcohol appear to be very similar to those adults give—a tradition of drinking in their region or country, sociability, relaxation, testing out limits and pleasure. Most young people are mainly experimenting or occasionally consuming alcohol, generally learning an appropriate mastery of alcohol consumption between middle to late adolescence and young adulthood. Some young people, however, drink to cope with psychological distress, to forget problems, for example in families, schools or other relationships and are at risk of becoming long-term, large-scale consumers developing misuse and dependency, especially when “binge-drinking”.
In primary care institutions young people are rarely, if at all, and mostly superficially asked about their alcohol use, although primary care physicians are in a unique position to offer low-threshold support for many everyday lifestyle-related problems. Main barriers to screening and counselling are insufficient time and lack of training in effective communication. The presentation will give some hints on easily applicable techniques that allow access to those young people who are at risk of developing alcohol use disorders and are in need of support.