Southwest Counseling Services asks: What is the alcohol use in Sweetwater County?

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In Wyoming, activities surrounding alcohol use are quite popular. This is heavily due to the social acceptance and availability of alcohol. Research done by the Rural Health Information hub shows that in rural areas there are higher rates of alcohol and tobacco use. They have found that substance use is increased in rural areas due to isolation, poverty, and lack of access to health care, among other contributing factors. However, what is being done to educate our community in reducing harmful behavior?

With a change in season approaching, allowing us to be able to spend more time outdoors and recreating with friends and family we find it important to reemphasize alcohol safety.

The Wyoming Prevention Needs Assessment (PNA) surveys 6th, 8th,10th and 12th graders. The PNA asks a variety of questions in order to gauge what prevention strategies are working within a community and what focus areas need additional attention and revisions.

In relation to alcohol at community events, the first question asked was “In the past year (12 months), have you been to any community events where adults were drinking alcohol?” The surveyed results indicated that 70.83% of students said that they had witnessed alcohol consumption at events. When asked the question “In the past year (12 months), have you been to any community events where adults were drunk or intoxicated?” The responses indicated that 55.57% of the students said “Yes”. (These reports are from the 2020 PNA Home | Wyoming PNA (pnasurvey.org))

The issue with these statistics shows how accessible and acceptable behaviors surrounding alcohol are in Sweetwater County. Sweetwater County hosts several family events where alcohol is served, and when compared to other counties we have some of the highest rates of harm and deaths per capita caused by vehicle accidents related to alcohol consumption. Sweetwater County is not shy to the idea of alcohol but we should also be educated about the risks and harm associated with this behavior.

While both response rates did indicate a decline since the last time the survey was administered in 2018, we still find it important to promote our community prevention goals. It is also important to keep in mind safe alcohol behavior. Here are some safe alcohol tips and considerations:

  • Become familiar with the dietary guidelines for alcoholic beverages. The guidelines indicate 1 a day for women and 2 a day for men. This is equal to 7 a week for women and 14 a week per men. (These guidelines are for moderate alcohol consumption)
  • Binge drinking is described as 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men within a period of time.
  • Plan ahead. Take into consideration the dietary guidelines and be aware of how much you might plan to drink. Planning drinks ahead of time can help you hold yourself accountable and stay safe. It may also be beneficial to plan your transportation ahead of time. Arrive to your destination safely.
  • Pace your drinks. Remember to stay hydrated with water, rotate your drinks with water and keep your nutrition up by snacking.
  • Familiarize yourself with what a “Standard Pour” is. (Refer to the chart)

For more education about alcohol use contact your Community Prevention Specialists Shelby Gordon and Delaney Wells at (307) 352-6677.


 

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