Substance use by adolescents is a significant public health problem and is associated with both acute and long term health problems. The American Academy of Pediatrics and other organizations recommend routine screening and brief intervention to prevent or reduce substance use as part of routine care for adolescents. This presentation will 1) review the impact of substance use on the developing brain with particular focus on alcohol and marijuana; 2) review the use of validated screening tools for adolescent substance use and present a brief motivational intervention strategy targeted at reducing substance use by high risk adolescents.


Sharon Levy, MD, MPH is a board certified Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School; she also has a Master’s degree from the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Levy is the Director of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Program in the Division of Developmental Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital where she has evaluated and treated hundreds of adolescents with substance use disorders. She has published extensively on the outpatient management of substance use disorders in adolescents, including screening and brief advice in primary care, the use of drug testing and the outpatient management of opioid dependent adolescents. She is the PI of the SAMHSA-funded medical residency SBIRT project at Children’s Hospital Boston and an NIAAA-funded study validating the youth alcohol screening tool in a population of youth with chronic medial illness. Dr. Levy currently serves as the chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Substance Abuse.

Webinar Shortcuts

2:25 Objectives
Brain Growth in Childhood
Brain Weight by Age
Brain Growth in Adolescence
Brain Maturation
17:47 Marijuana and Other Cannabinoids
Endocannabinoid System
THC vs. Anandamide
Withdrawal Symptoms
Brain Changes
The Dunedin Study
Disorders and Depression
34:19 Alcohol
Neurobiological Effects
Attention & Spatial Working Memory Study
Behavioral Effects on the Adolescent Rat
45:50 Questions
47:01 SBIRT
Example Case
Alcohol Involvement in Vehicle Crashes
Substances Used By 12th Graders
Alcohol Associated Risk Behaviors
Screening Tools
1:12:12 Brief Intervention
Brief Intervention Goals
Sample Brief Advice
Brief Motivational Interventions
1:31:17 Questions
1:38:47 Brief Motivational Interview
Evidence for MI
Core Assumptions and Principles
MI Tools
MI Application Examples
1:54:02 Brief Motivational Interview
Brief Intervention
SBIRT in Primary Care
Assess, Advise, Assist, Follow-up
Example Cases
2:17:20 Summary

Additional Resources