According to a recent survey, 85.6% of Americans over the age of 18 have consumed alcohol on at least one occasion in their life. Some people know when to call it quits after one or two drinks, and there are many others who find they just can’t get enough.
There is a stark difference between being a social drinker and binging on alcohol regularly.
Have you noticed a friend indulging more often? Are you concerned about your own alcohol consumption? There are some key signs to watch for when it comes to social drinking vs binge drinking and addiction.
Follow along to discover the difference between social and/or occasional drinking, and when more frequent or daily drinking becomes a problem.
What Is a Social Drinker?
The definition of a social drinker is an individual who engages in the consumption of alcohol purely for social enjoyment. This could mean having a glass of champagne at a wedding, occasionally hitting the pub for a Friday night pint, or joining family and friends for a few beverages in the backyard.
A social drinker sips away for a feeling of companionship. They may drink to cut loose and have a little fun, or even to celebrate an important event or hard-earned promotion. The main intention of a social drinker is not to ‘get drunk’ or ‘forget about their problems.’
When it comes to a social drinker vs a casual drinker, the main element of difference is the environment. Social drinkers often have a beverage to fit in with the crowd or celebrate with loved ones. Casual drinkers on the other hand enjoy a drink with or without company.
Neither of these ‘moderate drinkers’ are considered addicted to alcohol as they can draw the line when they’ve had enough to drink. More importantly, a moderate or social drinker doesn’t let alcohol interfere with their daily living or commitments such as work.
Now, this isn’t to say that getting carried away on a Friday night and suffering a hangover the next day means you are instantly an alcoholic. However, when these instances become more common than not, you may be falling into the rabbit hole of addiction.
Social Drinking vs Binge Drinking
If you’ve enjoyed a party or two in your lifetime, you probably know that social drinking and binge drinking can occasionally overlap. However, partaking in binge drinking regularly is not a trait of a moderate drinker.
Binge drinkers mainly drink to feel drunk. The main purpose of this activity is to achieve the ‘numbing “wasted’ feeling quickly rather than enjoying the taste of a drink or the company around you. Binge drinkers are often driven by a desire to forget about their problems. They drink to relieve stress in decision-making or uncomfortable roadblocks.
Binge drinking is often the first sign of alcohol addiction. The increased consumption of alcohol forces the drinker to consume more and more to achieve that ‘drunk’ numbing out of feeling.
When Moderate Drinking Becomes a Problem
While social drinking is often not a concern, it can be easy to cross the line from a moderate drinker to an addicted drinker. Key indications of over-consumption and addictive behaviors include things such as:
As we mentioned above, binge drinking and/or frequent partying can often lead a social drinker to addiction by increasing their tolerance.
The other problem with frequent drinking is the impact it has on your neurological communication. When alcohol is consumed regularly, it begins to impact an individual’s ability to rationalize and use common sense. This can lead to them not being able to differentiate when they’ve had enough or to even stop drinking once they have realized.
The timing of drinks can also be a telling factor. Frequently consuming alcohol outside of mealtimes or showing up to social gatherings drunk are signs of a problem.
Addiction can make responsibilities like work and other commitments feel less important. If having to work or attending your child’s first basketball game doesn’t stop you from tucking away mass amounts of wine, you may have an addiction.
This neglectful behavior is a sign of low self-control when it comes to the debilitating liquid.
Hiding the Habit
It’s common for addicted drinkers to feel self-conscious about their drinking habit and hide it from friends and loved ones.
This could be due to embarrassment over their lack of control or frustration when their habits are criticized. In fact, alcoholics often prefer to spend time with other heavy drinkers to make them feel more ‘normal’ and less like they are being judged.
Denying drinking, stashing alcohol, or sneaking liquor into their cup means it may be time to get in touch with an addiction counselor.
Using Alcohol as a Coping Mechanism
If you feel like you need a drink to get through a tough conversation or relieve the stress of work, your mindset may be slipping into alcoholism.
There’s no denying that even social drinkers love a good stress-relieving beverage sometimes. Of course, if this is your primary tool for dealing with emotions, conflicts, and other confronting situations, there’s more going on.
Recovering from this mindset is one of the key factors of effective addiction treatment. This can help to reduce the chance of relapse and enable you to live a more balanced, happy life.
Drinking and Driving
A social or casual drinker can often tell when they are not okay to drive, even if they have underestimated their blood alcohol level. On the other hand, due to increased tolerance and lowered common sense, alcoholics are more likely to risk it and get behind the wheel.
If you’ve been involved in a drunk driving incident or feel you are capable of driving drunk, it’s time to seek help. Drunk driving is not only a danger to you but to all of those around you.
Knowing the Difference
Whether you identify as a social drinker, a partier, or a casual drinker, it’s important to know when you or your loved ones are losing control. From noticing the signs to approaching the subject with respect, alcoholism can be one of the trickiest habits to break. Do you or a loved one show signs of addicted drinking? Get in touch with us today to discuss how to approach treatment for alcohol addiction/rehab and receive the support you need.