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Drinking too much alcohol can affect daily life, relationships, and work performance. While an occasional drink is acceptable, excessive drinking can lead to different alcohol use disorders (AUDs). Fortunately, there are effective ways to prevent alcohol addiction.
Most alcoholism prevention programs focus on facilitating honest communication. They also help avoid risk factors for alcohol problems.
This proactive approach to preventing AUD works for underage drinkers and adults still in the early stages of alcoholism.
Alcohol addiction can affect anyone, regardless of age or gender. However, certain factors increase your risk of developing alcohol dependence.
People at risk for alcohol problems include those who:
Age is a strong motivating factor for the development of AUD. Alcohol consumption usually begins when a person is in their late teens to early twenties and peaks once they are in their late to mid-twenties.1
People in their late adulthood are more likely to develop alcoholism. However, teenagers who start drinking before age 15 are 5.7 times more likely to become an alcoholic by age 26.2
Teenagers may also struggle with alcohol use disorder. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), there are about 414,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17 with AUD.3 People with a family history of alcohol addiction are four times more likely to develop alcohol addiction.
of Americans suffered Alcohol Use Disorder in 2020.
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of Americans ages 18 and older reported that they engaged in binge drinking.
people have alcohol use disorder (AUD).
Preventive methods and programs are essential in preventing alcoholism among teens and older adults. To accomplish this, alcohol and behavioral education should start at home. Parents and family members must take an active role in making teens aware of the risks of alcohol.
Adolescents and young adults make up the largest percentage of people with AUD. Of the five alcoholic subtype groups, the young adult and young antisocial subtypes account for over 52 percent of all alcoholics.
Adolescents and young adults have a higher risk of succumbing to peer pressure and developing addictive drinking behaviors.
Young adults can also benefit from the support of friends and family. Although people who still have early alcoholism can learn skills to prevent addiction.
Kids as young as 12 have reported drinking alcohol.2 If you’re a parent to a teen or young adult, or if you know someone in the family between the ages of 12 and 25, you can help them reduce their risk for AUD with the following tips:
Have open and honest communication with children and teens about alcohol. While this may not be an easy conversation, building a strong parent-child relationship can make a difference.
Talk with them about alcohol and what it does to their body. Share statistics and facts highlighting the risks of drinking alcohol at a young age. Doing so will increase their understanding about potential risks of alcohol abuse.
Set rules about alcohol and inform teens that drinking and excessive alcohol use has consequences. Educating children on the negative effects of alcohol before they become an adult is essential. Doing so may help reduce their risk of substance abuse.
In many cases, underage drinking starts at home. Research shows that active and regular involvement in a teen’s life can help reduce the risk of underage drinking and alcohol problems.
If you keep alcohol at home, monitor the supply, especially if you leave your teen and their friends unsupervised. Get to know their friends and their friends' parents and how they view alcohol and substance use.
This makes it easier to monitor your teen’s activities and how to avoid possible peer pressure.
Many teens and young adults turn to alcohol to reduce stress. Teaching them healthy coping skills can help them better handle stressful situations without needing alcohol.
Taking an estimated 88,000 lives each year, alcohol addiction is America's third leading cause of preventable death. In addition, alcohol misuse places an estimated $249 billion burden on the economy.
As an adult, you're responsible for your actions. So if you want to prevent alcohol addiction, you should start with yourself.
Whether you drink casually or have started to drink alcohol more frequently, you can take the following steps to sober up:
Don't set a drinking limit on your own. Instead, follow the guidelines from healthcare institutions and medical professionals. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) recommends the following drinking limits:4
According to the NIAAA, only 2 out of 100 people who drink within these limits go on to develop alcohol problems.4
Asking yourself specific questions can help you recognize triggers. These questions include:
Knowing factors influencing your drinking will help you better understand how to reduce alcohol consumption or avoid drinking altogether.
Emotional drinkers turn to alcohol when they feel negative emotions such as sadness and anxiety. Unfortunately, this is a bad habit that can lead to alcohol dependence.
Try to be more self-aware of your emotional state. If you have the urge to drink alcohol whenever you have negative feelings, consciously direct your thoughts and actions to healthier alternatives.
For example, read a book instead of thinking about alcohol or drinking. You can also spend time on your hobbies.
If you think your drinking is becoming a problem, talk to trusted friends or family about it. This will help you eliminate the shame and guilt you might feel.
These negative emotions can give you an excuse to continue alcohol consumption. Talking about your problems will reduce this burden so you can focus on getting better.
Also, having the support of a close friend or family member will help you maintain sobriety. They can keep you in check and ensure you're not drinking.
Having a cabinet full of liquor or a well-stocked beer fridge is nice if you have guests who are also drinkers. But this also increases your risk of alcohol abuse or dependency.
A good preventive measure is replacing liquor or beer with other non-alcoholic beverages. Only stock up on alcohol before a social gathering or when you expect people to come over. Having no alcohol in your home decreases your chance of drinking.
If you drink frequently or tend to be an excessive drinker at social gatherings, try alternating drinks with food and other non-alcoholic beverages.
For example, when out at the bar with coworkers, don't spend all night drinking. Take your time consuming your alcoholic drink.
You don’t have to get another drink as soon as you finish, either. Instead, opt for a snack or non-alcoholic beverage. This keeps your blood alcohol levels low and helps you avoid binge drinking.
Create a network of friends and family who share similar interests. Surround yourself with positive people who make you feel good about yourself.
Exploring new hobbies, making new friends at social gatherings, and finding people who bring joy and add meaning to your life are great ways to help prevent alcohol addiction.
Don't spend all your free time with drinkers. Doing so will only put you at risk for alcohol problems.
Instead, use your free time to hang out with sober friends or those who drink moderately. Avoid people who drink excessive amounts of alcohol, such as binge drinkers.
Alcohol doesn't have to be the focal point when meeting others. There are other ways to spend time. You can play video games, watch movies, or have barbecues, among many other activities.
Knowing what alcohol does to your body can stop you from drinking too much or help you quit alcohol for good. Excessive drinking is associated with numerous physical and mental health and safety risks.
Short-term risks of alcohol use include:
Drinking excessively for a long time can lead to chronic health problems. It can also cause other complications.
Long-term risks of excessive drinking include:
Some signs can indicate the early signs of an alcohol problem. Look out for these symptoms:
If you or someone you know exhibits these signs, start taking measures to reduce alcohol consumption. Consider evidence-based treatments like alcohol rehab, behavioral therapy, and counseling.
Joining alcohol support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) can also help you maintain sobriety during recovery. However, it shouldn't be a substitute for professional help.
Excessive drinking can lead to alcohol addiction. This is a serious problem with serious health and personal consequences.
It's important to learn about the early signs of alcohol abuse, as this can reduce the risk of developing alcohol addiction. If you or someone you know is exhibiting signs of alcohol abuse, seek professional help immediately.
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