Education as Prevention

It is primarily anthropologists who proposed the socio-cultural model (as an alternative to the consumption model discussed above) as a means of preventing or lessening alcohol-related problems. Centuries of experience demonstrate that (contrary to what many believe) drinking at an early age, drinking every day, or drinking more than two drinks at a sitting, are not major factors in identifying who will have alcohol-related problems (as throughout southern Europe), suggesting instead that familiarity with alcohol and its effects, an unglamorous view of drinking, and learning to do so with food and in the company of kin may be protective.

On the assumption that sociocultural integration of alcohol is preventive, education about it seems to be called for to remedy widespread ignorance and inaccurate stereotypes about drinking and its outcomes. Numerous experiments with brief educational efforts, often unrelated to other topics and taught by people who are not knowledgeable, relying heavily on scare tactics, have been discredited, but there have been few attempts at long-term accurate teaching in ways that relate alcohol in credible ways to other things people care about. Rather than attempting to diminish drinking by everyone, such an approach would probably help abstainers to understand their choice as well as help some of those who might otherwise drink inappropriately, creating problems for themselves and others.

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