The practice of adolescent medicine in Alaska focuses on the care of teenagers. It is a specialized practice in the field of medicine. Adolescent medicine incorporates aspects of internal medicine, psychology, nutrition, gynecology, endocrinology, dermatology and sports medicine. A child is considered to be an adolescent when he or she is about to enter into puberty. Usually, girls enter into puberty a few years prior to boys, on average around the age of ten. A boy will generally enter into puberty when he is eleven or twelve years old. It is recommended that a teenager have a complete physical examination, including regular visits to the dentist and eye doctor, as well as a comprehensive mental health review beginning with the onset of adolescence.
Alcohol and drug abuse are prevalent amongst teenagers in all geographical areas. There is a very high incidence of alcoholism in Alaska. In order to address this problem, there are after-school programs for teenagers who are considered to be at-risk of drug or alcohol abuse or who may be suicidal. There are a variety of programs in Alaska that specialize in working with teenagers in a therapeutic program that addresses these issues. The impetus of these programs is to help the adolescent understand underlying issues that may be propelling them towards alcohol or drug dependence and offering them alternative ways of managing their feelings and stress levels.
Another specialty in adolescent medicine in Alaska is equine therapy. Because of the vast open spaces in Alaska, there are a number of equine therapy centers that work with teenagers on re-establishing good mental health. Some of the benefits of equine therapy are reported to be a raise in self-esteem as the teens learns to take care of his or her horse well. Troubled teens also come away from the program being less defensive because they are able to open up and connect with their horse without being self-conscious or judged. Equine therapy also allows adolescents to develop the qualities of self-discipline, patience, trust and empathy as they learn to take care of their horse and form a bond of friendship.
These are some of the specialized programs focusing on adolescent medicine in Alaska. Teenagers have their own unique medical needs as they grow from childhood to adulthood. Good mental health care is very important if a young person is experiencing difficulty in school or home life. The alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs found in Alaska help a teen to address issues of drug or alcohol dependency. The equine therapy programs are therapeutic programs that address and often heal adolescent mental health issues.