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Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

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Alcohol and Drug Problems - Prevention

Some alcohol and drug abuse problems can be prevented.

  • Do not drink alcohol or use drugs if you are pregnant. Drinking or using drugs before trying to become pregnant and during pregnancy increases your baby's chances of being born with birth defects and fetal alcohol syndrome.
  • Talk to your children about the effects of alcohol and drugs. Children are less likely to use alcohol or other drugs if their parents teach them early (during the elementary school years) about the effects of alcohol and drugs. Set a good example for your children by not abusing alcohol or using drugs.
  • Encourage your teenager to avoid alcohol and drugs. Drinking alcohol or using drugs during the teen years can harm growth and development. It can also cause some teens to develop substance abuse problems later in life. Drug use in this age group increases the chance that your teen will be involved in crime, high-risk sexual behavior, accidents, and injuries.
  • Provide nonalcoholic beverages at parties and meals. Don't give your children the impression that you have to have alcohol to have a good time as an adult.
  • Cut down on your drinking. Safe levels are: less than 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women. One drink is 12 fl oz (360 mL) of beer, 5 fl oz (150 mL) of wine, or 1.5 fl oz (45 mL) of hard liquor. Do not drink every day. See the topic Drinking and Your Health.
  • Look for signs of mental stress. Try to understand and resolve sources of depression, anxiety, or loneliness. Don't use alcohol or drugs to deal with these problems.
  • Ask your pharmacist or doctor whether any of your current medicines can cause dependence.
    • Be especially aware of pain medicines, tranquilizers, sedatives, and sleeping pills. Follow the instructions carefully, and do not take more than the recommended dose.
    • Make sure that your doctors are aware of medicines prescribed by another doctor. Use only one pharmacy when getting your prescriptions filled.
  • Do not regularly use medicines to sleep, lose weight, or relax. Seek nondrug solutions.
  • Do not suddenly stop taking any medicine without your doctor's supervision.
  • Do not drink alcohol when you are taking medicines. Alcohol can react with many medicines and cause serious complications.
  • Do not smoke or use other tobacco products. Many people relate tobacco use to alcohol and drug use. For more information, see the topic Quitting Smoking.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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