Reducing Your Risk of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Alcoholism tends to run in families, and genetic factors partially explain this pattern. It is impossible to reduce your genetic risk. However, risk is not necessarily destiny. Certain factors, such as strong social supports, can help protect even high-risk people from becoming alcohol dependent. Other suggestions include:

  • Socialize without alcohol.
  • Avoid going to bars.
  • Do not keep alcohol in your home.
  • Avoid situations and people that encourage drinking.
  • Make new nondrinking friends.
  • Do fun things that do not involve alcohol.
  • Avoid reaching for a drink when stressed or upset.
  • Drink slowly.
  • Replace a drink with something else you really enjoy
  • Limit your alcohol intake to a moderate level.
    • Moderate is two or fewer drinks per day for men and one or fewer drinks per day for women and older adults.
    • A 12-ounce bottle of beer, a five-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor is considered one drink.

References:

American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 4th ed. Text Revision. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association; 2000.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website. Available at: http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/.

Patient education materials: strategies for cutting down. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website. Available at: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Practitioner/CliniciansGuide2005/clinicians_guide_cutdown.htm. Accessed April 14, 2007

Patient education materials: what’s a standard drink? National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism website. Available at: http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/Practitioner/CliniciansGuide2005/clinicians_guide13_p_mats.htm. Accessed April 14, 2007.



Last reviewed April 2007 by Janet Greenhut, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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