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Prevention of Alcoholism: Issues that Need
to be Looked at and Addressed

Prevention basically falls into two categories: i) the actual prevention of alcoholism or drug addiction, ii) relapse prevention of an already standing addiction either to alcohol or drugs.

So if you’re interested in reading about Relapse Prevention (and the steps/stratgies you actually need to follow) – just click on the link - because here I'm going to be talking about the actual prevention of alcoholism and drug addiction, and whether it not it's realisitically achievable?

Drug or alcoholism prevention, while an ideal to certainly aim for – is realistically never going to happen. The only way to ever truly prevent addiction – whether to alcohol or drugs – is to somehow stop all people from using them.

And we know that will never happen – especially because one of those (alcohol) is totally legal and plays such a huge part of our social fabric. Play with fire and people will get burned – that is unfortunately the way it is.

So if ultimately the total prevention of alcoholism or drug addiction is never realistically going to be achieved – what can we at least do to bring the rates of addiction down, and prevent more people from needlessly destroying or losing their lives?

Obviously education plays a huge role in that. And you need to start young, especially with the rates of teenage addiction getting higher and the age of kids getting addicted, lower. When kids of 12 and 13 are ending up in Rehab – we have to start educating kids younger and hitting the message home harder.

I don’t remember ever being truly educated to the dangers of alcoholism and drug addiction as a child. Yes, I can remember a policeman once come to our school and show us samples of various forms of drugs, give us a few statistics, and that was it.

Though useful, a one-off like that is never going to be enough. Education starts at home, so as parents we need to take more responsibility for truly educating our children about the dangers that alcohol and drugs carry.

alcoholism prevention But for the message to hopefully get through to more people - it needs to be more frequent, carry more of an impact and be more personal. So what about using real-life examples, i.e. young adults or teenagers, that have just about managed to destroy their lives before they’ve even really begun, give regular talks at schools?

You could also have parents who've lost a child due to drug/alcohol addiction give regular talks at schools and universities, and similarly get those that have lost a loved one through being in the wrong place at the wrong time, e.g. killed in a car accident because of another drunk driver, share their stories.

The U.K recently started a television advertising campaign aimed primary at teenagers and young adults about the dangers of alcohol abuse – to try and curb their growing problem of teenage binge drinking.

While a brilliant idea – I don’t think the ads hit home hard enough or spell the dangers clearly enough. Perhaps conveying the message of how lives have been destroyed by the kinds of people I mention above, will get the message home far more powerfully?

There is no perfect way to approach the prevention of alcoholism and addiction dilemma. Education is a critical component if addiction and alcoholism prevention is going to become more successful. But it is critical that messages (however they are conveyed) start younger, are more frequent and hit home harder.

The other approach to prevention is using the law to try and at least get people to use alcohol more responsibly. Frankly, I don’t believe most people are mature enough to handle alcohol at 18, so I think 21 should become the minimum drinking age.

And for anyone caught drinking under 21 should be dealt with in an appropriate way (a spell of community service?) to at least try and curb the growing problem of under- age binge drinking. And anyone caught selling alcohol to under-agers – should face severe penalties.

As for adults, in many countries, drink-driving is not enforced nearly severely enough. There should be an absolute zero tolerance policy, with severe penalties. If implemented properly, alcohol related road deaths would rapidly drop in numbers. Now I know certain countries are great at this – but many aren’t – so more needs to be done.

Somehow too the stigma attached to any form of addiction needs to be addressed when looking at the prevention of alcoholism and addiction issue. As long as addiction carries the social stigma it does - causing embarrassment for the addict or those close to him - people are more likely to deny and cover up the problem for as long as possible – rather than get help as the earliest sign of there being a problem.

If you get cancer, you want to identify and address the problem as soon as possible, but with addictions people often tend to wait till the last possible moment before getting help. So if we can change the perception that society at large holds about addictions, removing the stigma and shame for the sufferers (which no doubt plays huge role in their denial), help may be sought more quickly, thus making the problem more manageable.

So while the prevention of alcoholism and addiction will never be achieved entirely, a lot more can be done to ensure addiction rates drop from the current alarming levels to something at least more manageable. I’ve only touched on a few points – there are no doubt many other ways to address this problem – but it all starts with raising awareness, so hopefully what I’ve written here will help in that regard.

So even if the total prevention of alcoholism and addiction isn't an entirely realistic aim ...

1) Knowing what successful drug and alcohol addiction recovery entails,

2) Being able to choose the best course of treatment for drug addiction or alcoholism,

3) And doing everything you can to ensure relapse prevention

Are the steps you need to follow to ensure the problem of addiction is managed successfully.

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