During a routine medical history for a teen, the health professional
may ask questions about alcohol, cigarettes, inhalants, and drug use. The
health professional may want to talk with the teen alone to obtain accurate
information. Unless the teen reports being harmed by someone or threatens to
harm someone else, the health professional will likely keep the information
A good medical history for a teen suspected of using substances
includes information about which substances are being used, the quantity and
frequency of use, and the setting for use.
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The health professional may begin by asking your teen about
substance use among his or her friends. Some questions might be:
Do your friends drink alcohol, smoke
cigarettes, use inhalants, or use drugs?
What do your friends think
about teen substance use?
Do your friends ever get drunk or high at
Do your friends ever drive when they are high or
Some questions might be:
Have you ever drunk alcohol, smoked cigarettes,
used an inhalant, or used drugs?
At what age did you use for the
If you take drugs, which ones do you
How do you take the drug? (If he or she is using more than
one, this question will be asked for each drug.)
When was the last
time you used a substance?
How often do you use a
Do you ever drink or use drugs when you are
Do you ever get drunk or high at social
Have any of your friends ever been concerned about your
use of alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs?
Have you tried to cut down or
quit using alcohol or another substance?
It is also important to find out the teen's attitude toward
alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. Questions may include:
Do you think use of alcohol is okay for people
Do you think smoking cigarettes or other forms of tobacco
are okay for people your age?
Do you think use of inhalants is
Do you think use of certain drugs is okay? Which
Do you think your use of alcohol, cigarettes, inhalants, or
drugs is a problem?
The health professional will also ask about stress at home.
Questions might include:
Do your parents or brothers and sisters drink alcohol, smoke, use
inhalants, or use drugs? Are you concerned about their substance
How do you get along with your parents? Do you feel valued by
What do your parents think about your substance
Have you ever been physically or sexually abused?
Other psychiatric conditions
The health professional will ask questions to see if the teen needs
to be evaluated for psychiatric conditions, such as
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),
post-traumatic stress disorder, or long-term depressed
mood (dysthymic disorder). The health professional may also ask questions about physical or
School and other issues
Questions about school and other issues might include the
Do you ever drink or use drugs while you are at
Have you missed school because you were drunk or hung
Are your grades in school getting worse? Do you like school?
Are you thinking about dropping out?
Are you involved in sports or
other activities, such as music?
How do you get along with your
Have you ever driven a car after drinking or using drugs?
Have you ridden with someone who has been drinking or using
Have you ever been arrested for alcohol or drugs? Have you
had any other legal problems related to your substance use?
Are you sexually active?
Primary Medical Reviewer
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Peter Monti, PhD - Alcohol and Addiction
August 19, 2010
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
August 19, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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