social drinker vs. alcoholic

The Line Between The Social Drinker vs. Alcoholic

Alcoholism can devastate families, break apart relationships, and ruin career opportunities. While social drinking can be a normal part of life, it can also easily devolve into alcohol dependency. This transition often happens slowly over years of social drinking, so the line between social drinking and alcoholism is blurred. What is the difference between a healthy relationship with alcohol and problem drinking? Here are several clues to help you recognize the signs and symptoms of alcoholism:

Antisocial Drinking

This may sound simplistic, but the easiest way to tell the difference between social drinking and alcoholism is that healthy social drinkers are social! Many people drink socially because it helps them feel more outgoing or friendly in social settings, but problem drinking can cause just the opposite to happen. Wine with dinner or a few beers with your buddies can gradually turn into an alcohol problem. You may notice your relationships beginning to break down or dissolve completely. Your friends may not want to hang around anymore, because you drink too much and are out of control. You may even end up drinking alone because you’ve alienated your friends and family with your heavy drinking. What started as social drinking is now very antisocial behavior.

Negative Consequences

A typical social drinker may have a hangover now and then, but drinking alcohol would almost never impact their work or home life. Alcoholics experience a myriad of negative consequences as a result of their drinking. Unfortunately recognizing the connection between negative consequences and heavy drinking can be difficult for alcoholics. As social drinking transforms into problem drinking, the negative impacts will also worsen. Getting into alcohol-related car accidents or needing to call into work sick due to a hangover are two examples of the negative effects alcohol addiction can have on your life, but there are many negative consequences of alcoholism that may be less noticeable.

Emotional Drinking

Some social drinkers find that alcohol helps them unwind after a tough day at work. Social drinkers recognize that alcohol may relieve some stress, but they don’t rely on alcohol as their main outlet for stress relief. Drinking to relieve stress is one of the most common reasons people start drinking heavily. Emotional drinking is yet another sign that you may have an alcohol dependency. If you drink to escape from your problems or to numb your pain, you probably have an alcohol problem. Those who have an alcohol dependency also tend to have trouble finding other coping mechanisms. Alcohol becomes their main strategy for dealing with sadness or stress.

Unable to Moderate

Social drinkers don’t drink to get drunk; they are able to moderate and plan ahead when it comes to drinking alcohol. This is a major difference between social drinkers and alcoholics. Those who are dependent on alcohol may find themselves routinely having many more drinks than they had originally planned. They may also feel the need to become intoxicated every time they drink. An inability to practice moderation and routine binge drinking are two major signs that you may have a drinking problem.

If one or more of these signs sound familiar, it’s time to get the help you need now.  Don’t let alcoholism destroy your life. The Treatment Specialist is here to help you understand the underlying causes of your addiction so you can take responsibility and overcome your alcoholism. Contact a professional counselor today to start your journey toward a healthier, happier lifestyle. Call the Addiction Helpline at 866-44-7911

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