Copyright Goodheart-Willcox Co., Inc. Chapter 9 Alcohol 289 Preventing Alcohol-Use Disorders Alcohol-use disorders can cause serious short- and long-term consequences. Alcohol use in young people can lead to changes in brain development and long- term dependence on alcohol later in life. Therefore, preventing alcohol use in young people is especially important. Fortunately, certain strategies exist to help prevent alcohol-use disorders and improve health and well-being. These strategies include education and refusal skills and government approaches. Education and Refusal Skills Schools have developed many education programs to decrease risky drinking, especially in underage drinkers. These programs include information about the physical, social, and mental consequences of alcohol use. This information might mention the health risks and physical effects of alcohol use on the body. It might also mention the risk of strained personal relationships, which can occur when a person drinks too much. This information might also emphasize the legal consequences of young people possessing alcohol (Figure 9.15). Education can disprove the beliefs some young people have about their peers’ alcohol use. Young people may believe that using alcohol is the norm among their peers, but the truth is very different. Many studies show that most young people do not drink. In fact, most young people wish there was less drinking in their environment. Educating young people about this fact can encourage them not to drink. For example, some colleges give new students information showing that many of their fellow students are also uncomfortable with how much drinking occurs on campus. Students who receive such information report drinking less alcohol than students who do not receive this information. Education is important, but you must also learn refusal skills. Even if you are aware of the many negative consequences of alcohol use and have made the decision not to drink, alcohol may still be present in your environment. Though it is not the norm, some young people do use alcohol. Developing and practicing refusal skills can help when someone offers you alcohol (Figure 9.16). sirtravelalot/Shutterstock.com Figure 9.15 Underage drinking is illegal and can result in an arrest. Strategies for Refusing Alcohol My coach will be really mad. I don’t drink. I don’t have to drink to have fun. Drinking makes me sick. I’m on a medication that means I can’t drink any alcohol at all. I can’t drink because I need to be in the best condition for the basketball game. I can’t let the team down. My parents will kill me. FMStox/Shutterstock.com Figure 9.16 Refusal skills can help you resist pressure to try alcohol. The more you practice your refusal skills, the better prepared you will be to resist peer pressure.