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Many addiction experts agree that education is the foundation to both preventing and treating alcohol abuse. A great number of people who drink alcohol do it for pleasure to help them relax, and rarely have any problem as a result. They are able to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, a beer after work with the guys and know when to stop drinking at a wedding or holiday party. However, some people lose control of their drinking patterns and it results in embarrassing evenings, hangovers, missed days of work, broken relationships and ultimately serious health issues.

The best plan for prevention is to start early and explain to young adults why they shouldn’t drink alcohol and what the risks entail. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, adolescents may drink less often than adults, but when they do drink, they consume about 5 drinks, which is considered binge drinking. Teenagers are especially vulnerable due to social pressures but when armed with the facts and strategies to get out of uncomfortable situations, they can gain the confidence to just say no. Some main points that young adults should be aware of are that drinking impairs judgment and increases chances of risky behavior. Statistics show that approximately 5,000 underage drinkers die each year due to alcohol related car crashes, falls, and alcohol poisoning. The brain continues to develop until the early 20’s and drinking alcohol can impair healthy growth.

Once alcohol abuse and/or dependence has developed in adulthood, there are an increasing number of reasons to stop. Some things to consider are that drinking can contribute to high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats and even stroke. It kills the liver causing fatty liver disease, fibrosis or cirrhosis. It weakens the immune system so heavy drinkers are more susceptible to infections like pneumonia and tuberculosis. And, studies show that it contributes to certain types of cancers like breast, liver, throat, mouth and cancer of the esophagus.

Although it might seem like an alcoholic beverage might help individuals who are anxious or depressed to relax and lose their worries, in the long run the opposite is actually the case. Alcohol actually promotes depression and interferes with memory and regular sleep patterns causing more anxiety. While it might help someone to initially fall asleep, when it wears off in the middle of the night and the blood sugar level drops, drinkers can find themselves unable to sleep.

Taking an educationally based alcohol awareness class might be court mandated for someone who has become tangled with the law, but is also a key component to rehabilitation with the goal of sobriety. Students learn all of the health risk factors including how alcohol affects the brain and central nervous system. This leads to why one shouldn’t drink when driving or operating any machinery. The classes further discuss how this behavior affects those close to them and can come with severe consequences. Finally, learning new skills in how to better handle stress and improve communication with others help the individual move forward with a better understanding of how to live more mindfully and make healthier choices for the future.