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Guest Post: The Benefits of Moderation

Portrait of a lonely and desperate drunk hispanic man

The Benefits of Moderation

If you know someone who is struggling with an alcohol problem and they are resistant to changing their lifestyle, moderation may be a great option to present. When approached by a family member or a loved one about the idea of getting help, drinkers oftentimes think this means complete abstinence. The idea of giving up a behavior that is well engrained in their lives can be scary for someone who drinks excessively on a regular basis. Many drinkers are completely ambivalent about giving up alcohol entirely. They just can’t imagine their lives without it! That is why the notion of moderating their alcohol usage can be useful as an introduction to change along with the benefits of drinking moderately.

A person who actually asks for help to overcome their drinking problem is most open to a lifestyle change. But, for the person who is not expressing a desire to change, suggesting moderation may be something they can believe is attainable. You may also want to point out some benefits that alcohol moderation can provide. In fact, a study from the Journal Studies on Alcohol and Drugs shows that people who moderated their alcohol usage over a six year period with just one alcoholic beverage per week regularly, experienced an increased quality of life in comparison to those who completely abstained altogether.

While alcohol is widely overused, there are actually benefits to drinking alcohol in moderation that you can present to your loved one. Here are just a few:

A Longer Life. Studies have shown that moderate drinkers live longer than those who abstain or who drink excessively. There are psychological effects of moderate drinking and longevity is highest amongst groups who drink alcohol in moderation.

Anxiety and Stress Reduction. Low levels of alcohol can reduce stress and help generate an overall peaceful feeling. Alcohol consumers have reported that moderate amounts of alcohol helped them to feel more relaxed and to feel less anxiety. They also reported getting a more restful sleep.

Increased Cardiovascular Health. Moderate amounts of alcohol are known to increase insulin production and improve factors that cause blood clotting. This tends to help prevent against small blood clots that can form in the neck, heart, or brain which decreases the chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke. A moderate amount of alcohol also raises HDL (good cholesterol) levels which protects against heart disease.

Improved Libido. New research shows that moderate drinking improves sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction. In a 2009 study published in the, Journal of Sexual Medicine, found that the chances of experiencing erectile dysfunction amongst those who drank in moderate amounts reduced by 20 to 30 percent.

The benefits listed above are psychological or health related, but there are still more benefits connected with moderate drinking that are associated with increased life satisfaction. For example, relationships with family and friends tend to improve, along with improved career status and financial situation. This happens as a natural progression of the drinker living their life more responsibly. While suggesting moderation along with its benefits may possibly get your loved one thinking and moving toward the direction of a lifestyle change, the decision to moderate or quit altogether is personal and ultimately up to the individual to choose to do it.


Alcohol Use Patterns and Trajectories of Health-Related Quality of Life in Middle-Aged and Older Adults: A 14-Year Population-Based Study

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Guest Post: Can Teen Drunk Driving Be Prevented? by Marie Portillo

Can Teen Drunk Driving Be Prevented?

As parents, we try to give our children the tools and education to become successful, thriving adults.  However, at one point or another, a teenager will begin developing their own personalities as well as fulfilling their own wants, needs and desires. When it comes to substance use, a teen’s high school and college years are seemingly one big experimental phase. Not only is the body going through significant physical changes, but your child is growing socially as well. Peer pressure can certainly impact your
teen’s everyday decisions, but do not think that your input does not matter. However, when it comes to the safety of your child, and the youth of today’s relaxed mentality on drunk-driving, you do want to offer as much education, support and open-communication that you possibly can.

To better understand your child’s current mentality, reflect back on your own teen years and you will probably come to the conclusion that you made some pretty irrational and risky decisions. Did you experiment with drugs? Did you on occasion heavily drink alcohol or binge drink? What did you learn from the choices you made regarding substance experimentation? Have you ever gotten behind the wheel while under the influence? Did your experimentation turn into a lifelong problem with substance use or was it just a phase you grew out of? These are all good things to contemplate before engaging in a conversation with your teenagers about alcohol and drug use; they may ask you about your own experiences and you should be prepared to have an answer for them.

Fatalities that occur from drunk driving accidents are certainly a heartbreaking disaster for everyone involved. You may be wondering how to protect your teen from this sort of tragedy, and there is no definite answer except to project the value of good choices, judgment and responsibility. Some parents prefer to use threatening tones or punishment to deter their teen from drunk driving. Unfortunately, these scare tactics are not very effective for discouraging teens from driving while under the influence or stopping them from consuming alcohol in the first place. According to David Hanson Professor at Potsdam University who discusses on his website, Alcohol Problems and Solutions, there are several other methods that have minimal effect on a person’s decision to drive drunk or not such as; “incarceration and jail time, heavy fines or even an increase in the cost of alcoholic beverages.”

While as a parent you do not want to advocate for drinking and driving, you should prepare yourself for the fact that your teen may still decide to drink and drive anyway, regardless of the life lessons you have taught them. In this case, it is important to educate and prepare them to be ready to handle any situation. Engage in frequent conversations regarding alcohol or substance use so that your teen feels comfortable coming to you with a problem or concern. Help them recognize signs of a highly intoxicated person, and teach them problem solving to avoid confrontation that may occur if they try to stop a friend from drunk driving. On the flip-side your teen may also feel immense pressure to drink even if they hang out with a “good crowd.” Maybe your teen is torn between not really wanting to drink and the desire to fit in with their friends? Or they are curious as to what it feels like to be drunk? Either way, using an open and non-aggressive tone is the easiest way to get your teen to better communicate.

Another reason communication is key, is that it reassures your teen that while they will still have to face some consequences for their actions, you will be there for them if they need you. If your teen is ever in a situation where they may need a ride home, you should always let them know you will come and pick them up regardless of the circumstances. A teen filled with fear that they will be harshly punished for drinking or even hanging out with friends that have alcohol will be less inclined to call a parent and will most likely take the risk of driving or get in a car with someone who is intoxicated, convincing themselves that nothing will happen.

Another helpful tip is to explain to your teenager that all alcohol affects you the same way, regardless of its strength. Some adults have the misconception that having a single beer will not impair their judgment or reaction time while operating a vehicle; however, in reality “the contents of the typical bottle or can of beer, glass of wine, or liquor drink (mixed drink or straight liquor) each contain virtually identical amounts of pure alcohol. When it comes to alcohol, a drink is a drink and is all the same to a breathalyzer” (Hanson; Drinking and Driving).

Teens should also know their limits to drinking, especially if they are newly experimenting with alcohol.  This could not only save your teen from an alcohol overdose or alcohol poisoning but may provide them with some reality when it comes to drinking and driving; however, this is something you as a parent would need to be comfortable experimenting with. Although the legal limit to drink in European countries is often 16 to 18 years of age, alcohol is introduced at a much younger age and in turn there are statistically fewer fatalities involving alcohol. In the United States, the legal drinking age is 21 but the laws regarding underage drinking vary by states. Some parents however introduce alcohol, typically wine, in their home to pre-teens and teens at their own discretion.

There are some parents who are open to helping their teen understand how alcohol affects their body, and use different parenting techniques to achieve this. A controversial technique used by some parents is to allow their teenager to consume a few alcoholic beverages in the safety of their own home. In one instance, throughout a one to two hour window a parent handed their teen a pen and paper and asked them to write clearly, “drinking doesn’t affect my driving” as they consumed alcohol. As the teen continued to drink their writing became sloppier and sloppier. After the teen was finished drinking, the parent instantly made the teen consume plenty of food and water. The next day the parent presented their teen with their handwriting before, during and after drinking. The parents used this visual example to explain to their teen that if they could barely operate a pen, they were not fit to operate a vehicle.  This eye-opening experiment can visually show teens how drinking impacts their basic motor skills, even after only small amount of alcohol.

Whatever parenting tips you use, preventative education is always the best way to at least arm your teen with the tools to properly assess situations, while giving them the confidence to know that they can make the right choice in any situation with your support. While alcohol may be taboo in your household, almost 70% of college freshmen experiment with alcohol within their first year. It may be better to educate your teen now and provide them with the power of choice and good judgment for a successful future. After all sooner or later they are on their own.

Source: Alcohol: Problems and Solutions


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