What Can You Do To Prevent Alcoholism in Your Family?
Despite the problem of epidemic prescription drug addiction and the usual problems with street drugs, a drug detox facility told me last week that more than half of their clients are there for problems with alcohol. Why does alcohol continue to be such a problem, despite all the obvious destruction it causes? And what can you do to prevent alcoholism in your family?
I would say a lot of the answer lies in how heavily alcohol is promoted to young people as an inherent part of enjoying life. Going to the beach to play volleyball, bring along the beer. Friends getting together to watch the game, bring the beer. Everyone going to Joe’s house for a barbeque, bring the beer.
The commercials equate beer, or some other form of alcohol, as part of the good life. And the kids fall for it.
It also effects adults of course – a hard day at work, hit the pub on the way home for a drink. I can’t tell you how many TV series I’ve seen that include groups of co-workers going for a drink together after work. That’s just what you do.
Sure … not everyone drinks. But 12 percent of the U.S. adult population drinks enough to fit the definition of alcoholic, and then there are the other who-knows-how-many millions who drink, but aren’t considered alcoholics.
But a lot of it starts with kids. The majority of college kids who have alcohol problems – which amounts to about 10 percent of the student body – started drinking when they were younger. Almost 50 percent of kids who start drinking before they’re 15 years old are going to become alcoholic adults. And most than 50 percent of teens have already started drinking by the time they’re 15. If they don’t start drinking until they’re 21, the likelihood that they will become alcoholics drops to 9 percent. That’s a huge difference.
Another drawback to drinking early in life is that the alcohol damages the brain and keeps it from developing properly. The brain isn’t fully developed until age 25, so alcohol and anything else that’s toxic can really effect a person’s whole life.
What can you do about it? Educate your kids about alcohol, and do whatever you can to keep them from drinking until they’re at least 21. Chances are they will have learned by then that alcohol is not necessary to have a good time. And they will have learned to handle life’s problems and upsets without using alcohol as a solution.
And if your kids do wind up in trouble with alcohol, call us to get them into alcohol rehab as soon as possible so whatever damage alcohol could cause will be reduced.