Alcohol consumption is identified as one of the foremost behavioural problems that have contributed to the development of lifestyle illnesses worldwide. Moreover, it has been documented in clinical practices that excessive alcohol consumption leads to chronic illnesses, such as cancer (Fisher et al., 2018). For example, individuals classified as regular or excessive drinkers are much more likely to develop liver cancer than those who do not (Fisher et al., 2018). Accordingly, it is important to change this problematic behaviour. However, it would be complex and require significant psychological interventions due to the likelihood of people developing alcohol dependence. This assignment will not delve into those deep complexities, but it is important to be mindful that behaviour change is complex. In this assignment, the desired change is to reduce the ease of access to alcohol consumption in vulnerable communities.
Why the Behaviour Happens
Alcohol cessation is a consequential behaviour that helps individuals protect themselves against chronic illnesses and lifestyle illnesses such as diabetes and obesity, considering that the beverage contains empty calories. There are various reasons why people become addicted to alcohol (Fisher et al., 2018). Peer pressure is cited as one of the main factors that propel individuals towards alcohol consumption. At a young age, individuals tend to search for a sense of identity, which contributes to why they are likely to yield to peer pressure. Friends that drink are more likely to convince their peers to engage in the same behaviour, citing the kind of euphoria that emerges with the consumption of alcohol (Fisher et al., 2018). Individuals seeking to identify with a given peer group will also tend to yield to the pressure of alcohol consumption because they desire to be perceived favourably within the group. Thus, it begins as a form of social drinking but eventually, people develop a tolerance that turns into dependence.
Stress is another prominent factor that accounts for the development of alcohol consumption, particularly among adults. In psychology, stress is regarded as a normal part of life, and it can help individuals develop resilience if it exists at moderate levels (Fisher et al., 2018). However, whenever there are extreme amounts of stress, individuals become overwhelmed and are less likely to use available cognitive resources and healthy coping mechanisms. Many individuals who do not understand healthy coping strategies are likely to engage in alcohol, among other substances. This is based on the neurochemical basis of alcohol processing in the body because it aids individuals to temporarily forget their stresses (Fisher et al., 2018). However, it is regarded as an unhealthy coping mechanism because it helps people temporarily repressing their painful memories and stresses, after which they reoccur, particularly after the resumption of sobriety. Some healthy coping mechanisms for stress might include breathing techniques and engage in therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
Living in areas with plenty of alcohol supply is regarded as one of the predisposing factors to the behaviour. Accordingly, the United States federal government established guidelines detailing the specific coverage within which individuals and businesses are not allowed to sell alcohol and other substances of abuse. Similar guidelines exist in Canada, such as requiring Smart Serve trained employees in Ontario. This is important because individuals are more likely to use and abuse alcohol if it is something that is readily available to them. Alcohol use is more prevalent than prescriptive opioids, for example, because alcohol is readily available, whereas opioids are more strictly regulated (Fisher et al., 2018).
Poverty is another environmental factor that has contributed to the development of alcohol consumption behaviours. In a state of desolateness, individuals are more likely to seek solace in substances of abuse, key among them being alcohol use (Cerda et al., 2010). In poor neighbourhoods, there is also a likelihood that alcohol vendors will prioritize the selling of alcohol. This is most likely because there is limited adherence to government regulation in these areas (Cerda et al., 2010).
The establishment of policies meant to restrict excessive alcohol consumption within vulnerable environments is one of the proposed changes that will aid in changing this problematic behaviour. A drug-free or drug-restricted zone policy is one of the legislations established in parts of the United States. For example, it aims at reducing the availability of drugs and alcohol on school property. A proposed policy should extend beyond school property by ensuring that the nearby poor neighbourhoods do not have immediate access to alcohol due to their increased susceptibility to abusing alcohol. This is not simply banning alcohol consumption, as that will likely produce the opposite result, rather restricting the ease of access. Small environmental redesign, such as signage about age restrictions for alcohol consumption and the effects of alcohol, might also be meritorious.
Testing Intervention Efficacy
An evaluation approach will be used in determining whether the intervention is effective or not. The evaluation approach should be formative, and this will focus on reducing the number of alcohol-related arrests made within the identified areas. If the number of alcohol-related arrests declines, this trend will indicate that the intervention seems to be working and promotes a behaviour change. This should also apply to driving under the influence (DUI) charges recorded within the identified area. Assuming the police activity in the area remains consistent, and if the number of charges reduces, the implication could be that the intervention is effective. Lastly, it would be worthwhile to ascertain the number of patients seeking alcohol-related treatment and if the statistics indicate a declining trend.
Cerda, M., Diez-Roux, A.V., Tchetgen, E., Gordon-Larsen, P., & Kiefe, C. (2010). The relationship between neighbourhood poverty and alcohol use: Estimation by marginal structural models. Epidemiology, 21(4), 482-489. doi:10.1097/EDE.0b013e3181e13539
Fisher, D.G., Wadds, P., & Clancey, G. (2018). The patchwork of alcohol-free zones and alcohol-prohibited areas in New South Wales Australia. Safer Communities.