Reducing the Negative Consequences of Drinking

A recent study examined the use of "alcohol protective behaviors" used by college students experiencing PTSD symptoms. The authors explored the relationship between the negative consequences of alcohol use and PTSD symptoms. They noted that those symptoms were less in people who use "alcohol protective behaviors." This was especially true for women. What are these helpful behaviors?

First are "manner of drinking" strategies. These are ways to avoid the negative consequences of drinking, related to the method of drinking. For example, someone might choose to avoid drinking games, avoid hard liquor, or avoid taking shots.

Second are limiting strategies. These are ways to help to prevent the negative consequences of drinking by setting a limit on the number of drinks consumed. Before drinking, for example, someone may decide to limit themselves to three beers, or two glasses of wine.

Third are "serious harm reduction strategies," or attempts to directly prevent serious negative consequences. For example, one might intentionally not drive to an event with drinking, so there will be no chance to drive later while under the influence.

Studies have shown persons with certain mental health issues, such as PTSD, tend to use alcohol protective behaviors less often. A helpful intervention, therefore, might be to teach persons in therapy who are also experiencing negative consequences from alcohol use about the benefits of such strategies, and encourage their use. Such persons may or may not also be struggling with alcohol addiction. If they are, they may not be ready to reduce or stop their use. In either situation, alcohol protective behaviors could be a helpful addition to treatment.

alcohol consequences