Knowledge and awareness can be deadly weapons in the fight against addiction; it is crucial to know as much about drugs as possible, their physical and emotional effects, and the consequences of their abuse in order to understand what someone who succumbs to the disease of addiction may be up against. The internet, your local library, and even academic courses abound with information regarding the physiological, emotional, and psychological effects of drugs, as well as their potential for addiction, their legality, and how to recover from an addiction to them.
The most critical preventative measure against the grips of alcoholism is learning, fostering, and improving effective communication with family, friends, and loved ones. Expressing emotions and opinions safely and free from judgment can be a powerful tonic against forming resentments and harboring potentially dangerous secrets. Individual and group therapy can be pivotal in honing these communication skills and can strengthen an addict’s ability to reach out and ask for help when needed, combating the tendency to wallow in self-pity and isolate.
Alcoholics in recovery are given the opportunity to learn about the nature and treatment of their disease through attending meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous; loved ones of alcoholics and addicts can find the same support and education in groups such as Al-Anon, Ala-Teen, and ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics), learn to identify, and thereby treat and prevent, various symptoms of addiction and alcoholism and avoid the pitfalls pf excessive behavior that lead to the necessity of drug treatment and recovery.
In addition to learning effective communication skills, arming oneself with critical information about drugs and attending support groups, getting out of one’s self can be an effective way to prevent falling prey to addiction. Being of service is a cornerstone of recovery from alcoholism, but you do not have to be an alcoholic in order to be of service; volunteering time at a homeless shelter or charity is a wonderful way to give back to the community. Helping to plant trees in the neighborhood or cleaning up the beaches improves the well being of others, as well as the volunteer. Merely lending a helping hand to someone in need can do wonders to boost self-esteem and confidence – two things that may be antidotal to the compulsive and addictive behaviors resulting from the restlessness, irritability, and discontentedness of alcoholism.
Meaningful and fulfilling jobs are another way to keep one’s mind busy while simultaneously being of service and learning new skills. The resulting paycheck is another way by which self-esteem and confidence are inflated, and also validates someone’s feeling of value, purpose and self-worth. Along with employment, cultivating hobbies can bring us closer to our feelings, attitudes and opinions. Art projects like painting, collage, or photography can help us to strengthen our creativity and redefine the way we see the world and our place in it; yoga, martial arts, and other physical activity helps to strengthen us physically while endowing us with the unparalleled emotional serenity of accomplishment; reading and writing are other ways to exercise creativity while finding entertainment and strengthening communication. Sharing our hobbies and interests with others allows us to share invaluable moments with friends and loved ones while creating life-long memories.
The effects and consequences of untreated alcoholism can be sad, painful, disruptive, harmful, and even deadly. Understanding alcoholism can be instrumental in preventing the progression of the disease and learning how to help a friend or loved one who suffers from alcoholism to continue to recover and avoid relapse. Important though it is to understand the nature of the disease of alcoholism and how to treat it, it is equally important to foster healthy interests, hobbies, habits and lifestyles from a young age within families, friendships and relationships in order to help yourself and others to develop emotionally and to grow healthily into a well-rounded compassionate and able individual, unencumbered by the limitations and consequences of untreated alcoholism.