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How to Prevent Alcohol Abuse & Addiction
Drinking too much alcohol can take its toll on daily life, relationships, and work performance. While an occasional drink is acceptable, drinking alcohol excessively can lead to dependence and alcohol use disorder (AUD). Fortunately, there are effective ways to prevent alcohol addiction.
Most preventative programs focus on opening up honest lines of communication and focusing on possible alcohol abuse risk factors. This is because developing a proactive approach to prevent alcohol use disorder is necessary, especially for underage drinkers.
Individuals with a family history of alcohol addiction are four times more likely to develop alcohol addiction.University of Rochester Medical Center
Who Is At Risk Of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)?
While alcohol addiction can affect anyone, regardless of age or gender, certain risk factors increase one’s chances of developing alcohol dependence. These can include:
- Family history of alcohol use disorder (AUD).
- Families or cultures where drinking is traditional or encouraged.
- Unhealthy drinking patterns – drinking more than 12 to 15 drinks a week.
- Regular binge drinking – five or more drinks on one occasion.
- Mental health disorders, such as anxiety or depression.
- Those with high-stress jobs or extreme work-related pressure.
- Adolescents and young adults with low self-esteem and high peer pressure.
Other risk factors that could be red flags for alcohol addiction include:
- Drinking alone.
- Drinking more to get the desired effects.
- Neglecting personal hygiene.
- Missing school or work consistently.
- Becoming defensive when asked about drinking habits.
Alcohol addiction affects over 14 million adults and over 400,000 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17.
Alcohol Addiction Prevention Begins with Teens and Young Adults
Adolescence 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.
Adolescence and young adults have a higher risk of succumbing to peer pressure and developing addictive drinking behaviors.
Prevention methods and programs for young people are essential in redirecting this behavior. In order to accomplish this, alcohol and behavioral education should begin at home. Parents or other family members must also take an active role in educating young teens on the risks of alcohol.
Talk about Alcohol and its Risks with Children and Teens
When it comes to alcohol, it is good to have open and honest communication with children, teens, and young adults. While this may not be an easy conversation, building a strong parent-child relationship can make a difference. Talk with them about alcohol, what it does to the body, and share the statistics and facts with them.
Set rules about alcohol and inform teens that drinking has consequences. Educating children on the negative effects of alcohol before they are on their own is essential. Doing so may help reduce their risk of substance abuse.
Monitor Alcohol and Behaviors in the Home
In many cases, underage drinking begins 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 there is alcohol in the home, monitor the supply, especially if there are times when your teen and their friends are home unsupervised. Get to know their friends and their friend’s 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.
Teach Valuable Coping Methods for Stress
Many teens, and even adults, turn to alcohol as a method of reducing stress. Teaching good coping methods can help them better address stressful situations without the need for alcohol.
Taking an estimated 88,000 lives each year, alcohol addiction is the third leading cause of preventable death in America. In addition, alcohol misuse places an estimated 249-billion-dollar burden on the economy.
Preventing Alcohol Addiction as an Adult
As an adult, you are responsible for your actions. Preventing alcohol addiction begins with you. While you may be a casual drinker already, there are some steps that you can take to minimize your risk of alcohol addiction.
Recognize Your Triggers
What triggers your heavy drinking? Is it a specific time of day? Do you crave a drink after a stressful day at work? Do you drink more with certain friends or co-workers? Do you turn to alcohol when you are bored or lonely? Knowing what emotions, actions, or people influence your drinking helps you better understand ways to reduce your alcohol consumption or avoid drinking altogether.
Remove Alcohol from the Home
Having a liquor cabinet full of alcohol or a well-stocked beer fridge is nice for social gatherings. Although, on a daily basis, this can increase your risk of alcohol abuse or dependency. A good preventative measure is to replace the bottles of liquor or beer with other non-alcoholic beverages and only stock up on alcohol for social gatherings.
Reduce Your Alcohol Intake
If you are a regular drinker or know that you tend to drink in excess at social gatherings, make a point to alternate your drinks with non-alcoholic options. For example, when out at the bar with co-workers, it isn’t necessary to have a drink in your hand all night. Sip slowly on your drink and instead of ordering the next drink, opt for a non-alcoholic beverage in between. This not only keeps you hydrated but also helps you avoid binge drinking.
Create a Positive Social Network and Support Group
Work to create a solid, positive social network of friends and family where alcohol is not a major factor. Surround yourself with positive people and those that make you feel good about yourself. Finding new hobbies, making new friends at social gatherings, and finding people and activities that bring you joy are a great way to reduce your alcohol consumption and help prevent alcohol addiction.