A better coping strategy for teens and alcohol

The Best Coping Strategy is Yoga or Alcohol?

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April is Alcohol Awareness month. This is very close to my heart because too many families struggle with alcohol abuse and addiction. I have seen its damaging effects especially on children. Worse, many teenagers adopt the use of alcohol as coping mechanism.

First, some facts:

  • 178,000 people in the U.S. alone die of alcohol-related harms a year. It is a causal factor in >200 diseases including seven deadly cancers. 13.5% of total deaths between ages 20-39 are attributable to alcohol.
  • Anheuser-Busch spends ~$7B a year in advertising, heavily targeting youth. Advertising spend is linked to higher consumption rates.
  • U.S. warning labels for alcoholic beverages haven’t been updated for more than thirty years, predating the recognition of alcohol as a group 1 carcinogen.
  • Alcohol tax policies are similarly outdated at the state and federal level. Higher taxes support reduced consumption rates.
  • Like Big Tobacco did for decades, Big Alcohol actively obstructs public awareness, heavily investing in opposing effective alcohol policies at the expense of public health.

Yoga and alcohol are two very different coping mechanisms, each with its own set of effects and implications for mental and physical health. Here's a comparison:

Effects on the Body:

Yoga: Yoga focuses on physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation techniques. It promotes flexibility, strength, balance, and relaxation. It can help reduce physical tension and improve overall physical health.

Alcohol: Alcohol is a depressant that affects the central nervous system. While it may initially provide feelings of relaxation and euphoria, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to impaired coordination, slurred speech, and long-term health problems such as liver damage, heart disease, and addiction.

Effects on Mental Health:

Yoga: Yoga has been shown to have numerous mental health benefits, including reducing stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression. It promotes mindfulness and self-awareness, helping individuals to better cope with difficult emotions and situations.

Alcohol: While alcohol may temporarily alleviate feelings of stress or anxiety, it is not an effective long-term coping mechanism. In fact, excessive alcohol consumption can exacerbate mental health issues and lead to a cycle of dependence and negative coping strategies.

Long-Term Consequences:

Yoga: Practicing yoga regularly can have long-lasting positive effects on both physical and mental health. It can improve overall well-being and resilience to stress.

Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption can have serious long-term consequences for physical and mental health, including addiction, liver disease, cognitive impairment, and increased risk of accidents and injuries.

Community and Support:

Yoga: Yoga can be practiced individually or in a group setting. Many people find a sense of community and support through yoga classes and workshops.

Alcohol: While alcohol is often consumed socially, it can also contribute to social isolation and problems in relationships, especially when dependence or addiction becomes an issue.

Yoga offers numerous physical and mental health benefits and promotes overall well-being, while excessive alcohol consumption can lead to a range of negative health outcomes and is generally not a sustainable or healthy coping strategy.

What’s the USAPA?

The U.S. Alcohol Policy Alliance is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization translating alcohol policy research into public health practice. The organization is committed to ensuring that local and statewide organizations engaging in alcohol policy initiatives have access to the science, resources and technical assistance, including support for organizing efforts, required to engage in informed decisions and actions in translating alcohol policy research into public health practice.

Here is a 3 minute video that captures what they’re up to. With this awareness, we hope to see you in yoga class or become a teacher in your area.


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