How Can You Prevent Alcohol Abuse?
Alcohol use prevention is one of the most effective ways to reduce alcohol-related costs and harm. Alcohol abuse is responsible for claiming the lives of tens of thousands of lives every year and causing painful consequences like liver damage, threats to one’s wellbeing, withdrawal symptoms, and dysfunctional relationships. For younger individuals, alcohol use prevention can reduce the likelihood of developing substance use disorders (SUD) as they age.
Currently, alcohol abuse is responsible for costing Americans hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Although alcohol use cannot be completely stopped, there are several ways to temper alcohol use. For example, increased taxes are preset to discourage excessive alcohol use.
Alcohol use prevention can function to prevent generational alcoholism, prevent developmental problems in newborn babies, and save billions of dollars annually. Perhaps most importantly, it could save lives of family members.
Alcohol use prevention has many other benefits. It can:
- Reduce risk of personal and societal harm.
- Reduce risk of premature death and disability.
- Reduce lost or reduced productivity in the workforce.
- Reduce risk of individuals abusing alcohol or developing an alcohol use disorder.
- Reduce the risk of a number of diseases, mental and behavioral disorders, and a range of injuries that are contributed to by heavy alcohol use.
- Reduce the overall amount of costs of alcohol related problems by the United States government.
There are interventions used for alcohol prevention, especially in the school systems. Engaging communities to prevent underage drinking is also key in alcohol prevention. There are many evidence-based approaches for preventing harmful alcohol use. Prevention efforts are especially important for young people, a group at particular high risk for the consequences of alcohol use.
Assessing Your Drinking Levels
One basic methods for assessing whether or not you need to take steps to prevent alcoholism is to examine your own alcohol use. Know the difference between social drinking and alcohol abuse, such as binge drinking and heavy drinking. Social drinking is when someone drinks small amounts occasionally in social settings. Binge drinking occurs when women drink 4 or more drinks within 2 hours and when men drink 5 or more drinks per 2 hours. Heavy drinking occurs when a woman drinks 7 or more drinks in a week or when a man drinks 14 or more drinks in a week.
Both binge drinking and heavy drinking greatly increase the drinker’s risk of developing an alcohol use disorder and many other mental and medical health problems. If you or a loved one are engaging in either high risk behavior, preventative measures should be taken.
Harm Reduction Programs And Alcohol Prevention
Harm reduction programs discourage acts of self-harm, harmful practices, and harmful consequences associated with substance abuse. Additionally, harm reduction programs can help at-risk individuals or those more vulnerable to substance abuse to minimize or discontinue drug or alcohol use. Furthermore, harm reduction programs create a quality of community life and non-judgmental services for connection. Those impacted by substance abuse have a space to feel heard and find the tools needed for a healthy lifestyle.
Interventions are helpful if someone abuses alcohol or other drugs and needs help understanding the impact of their actions. The goal of an intervention is to help the person with a drinking problem recognize they need help and to help them agree to enter treatment. Interventions are often successful because of the reinforcement of trusted people who truly want to see their loved ones recover from alcohol abuse.
Family members can facilitate interventions by having a professional present. This professional can be a counselor or medical professional. Relatives are present and may have specific concerns they address in the intervention. Loved ones can share specifically how they have been impacted by the drinking and/or drug use of the subject. At this point, ideally, the individual struggling with the alcohol use disorder can listen, take responsibility for their mistakes, admit they have a problem with alcohol, and agree to seek treatment.
The only way for interventions to be successful is if they are based in love, honesty and support. They should never involve coercion, shame, or anger, nor should they ever take the form of an ambush. A successful intervention requires extensive planning and, ideally, rehearsals and professional advice.
Professional Intervention Programs
Some businesses offer workplace intervention programs. Additionally, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) offers screening guides for interventions, and organizations like the Association of Intervention Specialists provide educational materials and evidence-based strategies for interactions at their websites.
Treatment As A Prevention Plan
Abstaining from alcohol is the best way to eliminate problematic alcohol use. It is understandable if people drink, then alcohol use disorders can occur for complex reasons. Getting treatment can stop someone from continuing alcohol abuse. Contact a treatment provider to discover treatment options. Individuals may access supportive groups and dietary and nutritional programs to encourage wellbeing. Medications are available to suppress withdrawal symptoms.
Author: Krystina Murray | Last Edited: October 4, 2021
Medical Reviewer: Deborah Montross Nagel