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Alcohol use disorder and its prevention


This article is for information purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Seek medical care for your treatment.

What is alcohol use disorder?

Alcohol is a psychoactive substance with instant effects on the brain.

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a medical illness identified by an inability to decrease or control alcohol consumption in the face of negative social, professional, or health effects. The terms “alcohol abuse,” “alcohol dependence,” “addiction,” and “alcoholism” are all used to describe conditions that are included in this category. AUD is regarded as a neurological condition and can vary in intensity from mild to severe. Alcohol abuse causes long-lasting changes in the brain that keep AUD functioning and leave sufferers vulnerable to relapse. The good news is that AUD patients can achieve and maintain recovery with evidence-based treatment using behavioural treatments, mutual-support groups, and medications, regardless of how severe the problem may appear to be. 

Alcohol dependence is progressive, too. Even something that apparently seems harmless can worsen if left neglected. Furthermore, alcohol use disorder (AUD) can be deadly in its extreme forms.

Every year, about 88,000 Americans die from alcohol-related causes in the United States. Only smoking, a bad diet, and a lack of exercise create more serious health issues. Alcohol use is an aggravating factor in about 31% of all fatal car accidents.

Nearly 16 million Americans are impacted by AUD. The severity might range from mild to moderate to severe.

Different drinking levels:

Keep a check on how many drinks you consume in a day, week and month. If you deink profusely, you may have alcohol use dis order. There are different levels of drinking that vary from person to person:

  • Binge drinking:

When women have 4 or more drinks or men who imbibe 5 or more drinks in 2 hours is called binge drinking.

  • High-intensity drinking:

When your alcohol intake is 2 or more times than binge drinking levels is high-intensity drinking.

  • Heavy drinking:

When women who consume three or more drinks daily or at least eight drinks weekly, or men who consume four or more drinks daily or at least fifteen drinks weekly is categorized as heavy drinking.

These drinking levels indicate that you drink abundantly. Alcohol consumption in pregnant women and adolescents under 21 is considered excessive.

Preventing alcohol use disorder:

Alcohol can have various effects on everyone which is why there is no single way to prevent it. Drinking pattern varies based on factors such as:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Culture
  • Environment
  • Background

Tips for preventing alcohol use disorder:

If you are suffering from alcohol use disorder following tips can help you with it:

  1. Drink moderately:

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise non-drinkers to fully shun alcohol. However, if you’ve already begun to use alcohol, you should restrict your intake to no more than one drink for women or two for men every day. Additionally, you can try low-risk drinking. For women, this implies restricting consumption to three drinks per day or seven drinks per week, whereas for men it means four drinks per day or 14 drinks per week. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) only 2 out of 100 people who drink within these limits develop AUD.

  1. Keep a check on how much you drink?

Even if you are alone or have some company make sure that you drink within the limits. Best is to do alternate drinking with other activities like:

  • Eat
  • Talk to people
  • Have water in between drinks
  • Substitute alcohol with non-alcoholic drinks

Drinking when you are depressed and melancholic will cause you to drink more and can lead to alcohol dependence. Consuming alcohol can temporarily uplift your mood but can cause greater physical, social and mental health problems. Never drink to succumb your negative emotions.

  1. Avoid triggers:

A person, place, object or any situation can be a trigger for you that compel you to drink excessively. Averting triggers can be really tough. Move to an alcohol-free environment such as a halfway house if you are continuously exposed to triggers.

Identifying your possible triggers is significant in alcohol prevention. Following are some of the ways to avert them:

  • Avoid events or celebrations where there is alcohol
  • Abstain from heavy drinkers or people who encourage you to drink
  • Store non-alcoholic drinks and healthy foods instead of alcohol
  • Avert people and scenarios that remind you of the past trauma
  • Avoid places that can provide alcohol easily such as bars
  • Master healthy coping mechanism to prevent emotional drinking

Preventing alcohol in teens and children:

Impulsive behavior can result in underage drinking. This generally increases the chances of accidents, injuries, sexual assault, alcohol overdose and premature death. There are some ways for parents or dear ones to prevent alcohol:

  • Appreciate teens to feel confident about knocking back alcohol
  • Speak upfront about drinking and its risks
  • Set limits on what will happen if a teen drinks 
  • Check your home’s alcohol to see if they’ve been drinking
  • Don’t let kids attend parties without a chaperone
  • Establish a rule prohibiting alcohol consumption at home.
  • Promote healthy relationships with friends who do not drink
  • Set an example with sensible alcohol consumption
  • Get your child enrolled in school facilities with alcohol prevention programs

Studies reveal that early drinkers are at greater risk of developing alcohol use disorder (AUD) in adulthood.

Help and support from your loved ones:

Do not hesitate to get help. Doctors can help you with harm reduction programs. AUD can harm anyone regardless of age. Prevention is easy if you know the early signs of alcoholism. Some of the signs of alcoholism are:

  • Drinking alcohol solo
  • To achieve the same effect need to drink more
  • Gradual weight loss and decrease in appetite
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Not active at work or school
  • Being defensive when confronted about their alcohol misuse

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