What is Social Drinking?
Drinking with others to relax, celebrate, and socialize is commonplace, and for most people, not a problem. Meeting up with friends for a drink after work or sharing a few beers at a barbeque can be harmless and fun. Social drinking is the pattern of drinking that is generally acceptable—which, for most people, is a drink or two. Social drinkers can have a few drinks with no negative repercussions and can easily give up alcohol. But for some, it is practically impossible to stop after those first few drinks, and having a few drinks with friends leads to a drinking problem.
Why Does Alcohol Affect People Differently?
What makes it so hard for some people to stop after a few drinks when others can easily do so? A variety of factors influence a person’s ability to remain a social drinker, such as:
- How much you drink
- How often you drink
- Your age
- Your family history
- Your health status
For example, people who only drink occasionally and are in good health have a strong likelihood of remaining social drinkers, whereas someone with a family history of substance abuse who drinks regularly is more likely to develop a problem.
What is the Difference Between Social Drinking and Alcoholism?
Social drinkers limit themselves to a few drinks and their behavior is not impacted negatively. It can be hard to define the line between acceptable drinking and a drinking problem because alcohol is legal and socially acceptable. These factors make social drinking a potential gateway to alcoholism, especially for people with a predisposition for alcohol abuse. For this group, social drinking is an easy introduction to alcohol. Once they start drinking, it is hard for them to stop. They may:
- Feel as if they need alcohol to function normally
- Act inappropriately while drinking
- Drink so much that they pass out or forget what has happened
- Miss work or social obligations because of alcohol
- Neglect personal relationships in favor of drinking
- Engage in reckless behavior, such as driving under the influence
People who become addicted to alcohol have a disease; alcohol use changes their brains so that they cannot just quit drinking, and their bodies become accustomed to alcohol. How do you know when a person has crossed the line into alcoholism? Some signs are:
- A strong craving for alcohol
- Continued alcohol use in spite of harm or injury to self or others
- The inability to limit the amount of alcohol consumed
- Physical illness when not drinking
- Tolerance to alcohol—greater amount of alcohol required to feel its effects
Alcoholism as a Social Issue
Alcoholism is not just a personal problem but is a problem for all the people affected by an alcoholic. Immediate family members suffer as they struggle to interact with an alcoholic—children of an alcoholic may worry about their parent, spouses may be worried and angry at the same time, and parents of an alcoholic may feel guilty as if they are at fault. Alcoholics may not fulfill their work obligations, leaving their co-workers to pick up the slack. Complete strangers may feel the impact of alcoholism through drunk driving or even violence, such as bar fights. The social issues of alcohol of alcohol are widespread.
Treatment for Alcohol Abuse
Many people have successfully conquered addiction to alcohol with the help of caring professionals and peer support. If you or someone you care about struggles with social issues with alcohol, help is available. Call us at 877-726-3352 for help in finding the right treatment center.