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People experience social pressure when trying to quit drinking

Posted October 4, 2016

It is quite strange how well we know how harmful alcohol is, and yet plenty of people start consuming it on a regular basis. Furthermore, when it becomes an addiction, it is extremely hard to stop and person is putting his entire life at risk – people are aware of it and yet alcohol consumption in many circles is still considered cool. However, even when person decides to quit it he receives a lot of pressure.

Quitting drinking is already challenging, but people often get judgement and pressure instead of support. Image credit: Antonio Borrillo via Wikimedia, CC0

Quitting drinking is already challenging, but people often get judgement and pressure instead of support. Image credit: Antonio Borrillo via Wikimedia, CC0

A new study from the University of Adelaide has found that people trying to stop or reduce their alcohol consumption face lots of social pressures and often even try to hide their efforts. These people try to stay away from places that alcohol is being consumed, make excuses about not attending parties or gatherings at bars and so on. Furthermore, they often feel like they are violating expectations when they refuse to drink with others. In situations when these people need support, they receive negative attitude and judgement.

This was revealed after a series of interviews, during which participants spoke freely about the stigma attached to the efforts to reduce alcohol consumption or even quitting drinking. People do not understand the reasons and make the person feel like he is violating some kind of social code. Therefore, people who are trying to quit drinking usually have to hide their efforts by making excuses, such as, being a driver, not feeling well and so on. This, of course, makes them feel extremely uncomfortable and does not help them with their efforts to reduce alcohol intake.

However, participants of the study had some positive observations as well. Ashlea Bartram, lead author of the study, said: “Those who found new ways to spend time with their peers that weren’t focused on alcohol often find it’s the best approach. Some have received strong support from their loved ones, and others have reported improved quality of social interactions – such as meaningful conversations – when alcohol is taken out of the equation”. This means that despite sometimes feeling like going against the flow, quitting alcohol does have a much wider positive effect.

Scientists want to continue their study with even more participants. The ultimate goal is to develop strategies that would help overcome these social obstacles.


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