What Is Social Drinking and When Is It a Problem?

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Getting together for a few drinks with friends from time to time is a common social outing for many people. Some people may have a drink to unwind or to feel more sociable.

These instances aren’t necessarily an issue, but it’s important to know if your drinking is under control or heading into dangerous territory. Knowing the difference can help you evaluate your drinking and make changes before you develop an alcohol addiction.

Are you asking, “Is my social drinking a problem?” We can help!

Here’s a guide to what social drinking is and how to recognize if you have a problem.

What Is Social Drinking? 

Social drinking is often considered “low-risk drinking.” This level of alcohol consumption involves drinking fewer than seven drinks a week and no more than three drinks a day for women.

For men, it’s no more than 14 alcoholic drinks per week and no more than four drinks a day. Social drinkers may have rules in place for themselves, such as:

  • Make sure you’ve eaten and are hydrated before drinking
  • Avoiding alcohol during emotionally stressful times
  • Knowing when it’s time to stop drinking
  • Not drinking to get drunk
  • Never drinking and driving 

Following rules for drinking socially can help you avoid drinking too much and may help you avoid alcohol problems in the future. There are many other ways besides drinking to relax or have a good time.

Although most social drinkers don’t become alcoholics, there are risks involved. Alcoholism occurs over a period of time and involves many factors.

Choosing to drink multiple times a week can lead to an increased tolerance and the desire to drink more. These can be early hallmarks of alcohol use disorder.

If you’re concerned, take a good look at your behavior and consider if your drinking habits may be more than just “social.”

Why Do People Drink Socially?

Social drinking is a common occurrence in the U.S. and around the world. From ancient times to the colonial settlers to today, beer, wine, and spirits signify friendship and connecting with others in social settings.

There are a variety of reasons people drink socially, including:

  • Celebrating a special occasion
  • To relax
  • To fit in
  • Mixing business with pleasure

What Is Problem Drinking?

No one intends to develop an alcohol dependency, but it can happen easier than you may think. If you’re in the habit of drinking in social situations, your reasons for drinking can change over time.

Alcoholism is considered the state you reach when you can no longer control your alcohol intake. An alcoholic will experience intense cravings and will continue to drink despite the negative consequences.

There are certain risk factors that can turn social drinking into problem drinking. These include:

A Family History of Alcoholism

There is a genetic component to alcoholism. If you have a parent or family member with an alcohol problem, you should monitor your drinking carefully.

If problem drinking was an issue in your home as you were growing up, you are at greater risk of developing a problem with alcohol.

Major Life Changes

A sudden change in life, such as a divorce, death, or job loss, can lead to excessive stress. Some people turn to alcohol as a way to cope with major life changes.

Emotional and Mental Health Problems

Some mental health issues like anxiety and depression can lead to alcoholism. People may use alcohol as a way to numb their emotions or escape from mental health symptoms.

This can become a dangerous cycle that leads to a serious problem with alcohol.

Is My Social Drinking a Problem?

If you’re concerned about your drinking, it’s important to take a look at when and why you’re drinking. Some signs of problematic drinking include:

  • Feeling like you can’t stop drinking
  • Drinking before you go out to a party or social engagement
  • Getting together with others with the purpose of drinking in mind
  • Experiencing memory lapses or blackouts
  • Engaging in risky behaviors when you drink
  • Trouble managing your home and work life due to drinking
  • Needing more alcohol to feel the same effects
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you don’t drink
  • Family and friends avoid you when you drink
  • Using alcohol as a reward
  • Feeling ashamed of your behavior after you drink
  • Finishing other people’s drinks
  • Getting defensive when someone expresses concern about your drinking
  • Can’t imagine life without drinking alcohol

If any of these signs seem familiar to you or a loved one, reaching out for help is the next best step.

Drinking to excess is dangerous and even deadly. This is especially true for binge drinking.

Although not all binge drinkers are alcoholics, their pattern of extreme drinking is just as dangerous.

Getting Help for Alcohol Addiction 

Although being a social drinker is accepted in society, it’s easy to slip into alcohol dependence over time. If you’re unable to stop drinking on your own, there is help available.

By the time you realize or admit you have a problem, alcohol may have negatively affected your life and health in many ways. Getting sober can be a great gift to yourself.

You don’t need a severe alcohol problem to get help. If you’re experiencing any negative effects from your alcohol use, treatment can be very helpful.

if your family or friends have tried to help, but you’ve ignored their pleas, it’s time to listen and do what’s best for your life and future. Denial can be a sign of a drinking problem.

There are different types of alcohol addiction treatment programs available today, including medication-assisted treatment. Depending on the severity of your alcohol use, you may need a medical detox to begin the journey to recovery.

The detox process can be dangerous without proper support and medical care. Following detox, you may want to enter an inpatient, outpatient, or online addiction treatment program.

Find the Right Addiction Treatment for You

If you’re asking what is social drinking and wondering if your drinking habits have become an issue, it’s important to reach out for help. The earlier you address and tackle an addiction to alcohol, the better.

At Recovery Delivered, we offer 100% online medication-assisted treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. 

If you’re ready to get started, reach out to Recovery Delivered today to learn more. 

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