Knowing When Your Drinking May Become a Problem
Table of Contents
- Knowing When Your Drinking May Become a Problem
- What is Social Drinking?
- How Does Drinking Alcohol Affect You?
- Social Drinking vs Alcohol Abuse
- Defining Your Relationship With Alcohol: How to Recognize an Alcohol Use Disorder
- Treating an Alcohol Dependence or Addiction
- The Importance of Medical Detox for Alcohol
- FAQs on Social Drinking:
- Get Help to Stop Drinking Today!
- Medically Reviewed By
Drinking socially has been widely accepted throughout the US for years. Whether celebrating a special event or going for a night out with some friends, having a few drinks every now and then is considered to be fairly normal.
Of course, even when done in social contexts, excessive alcohol consumption can be dangerous and may even become habit-forming after an extended period of time.
Keep reading to learn more about social drinking, how to recognize when these habits are becoming problematic, and how you can get help for alcohol abuse today.
What is Social Drinking?
Drinking and social gatherings are somewhat of a classic pair, particularly within American culture. This may be because of alcohol’s ability to reduce social anxiety and make attending events less intimidating.
Those who describe themselves as “social drinkers” do so because they only drink alcohol in social situations when alcoholic drinks will be present. Otherwise, these individuals will generally not partake in alcohol use.
There is no set pattern to this behavior. Some social drinkers may drink very rarely, as they do not attend many events, whereas other social drinkers may be going out multiple times weekly. Of course, someone who regularly drinks alcohol, even socially, may be more prone to developing habits of substance abuse.
How Does Drinking Alcohol Affect You?
Whereas a social drinker may enjoy increased communication abilities an alcoholic beverage or two can give them, alcohol is more than just a social lubricant.
Despite being socially acceptable, alcohol is still a drug. As such, a person’s drinking habits can do far more than just relieve stress or make them more chatty.
Short Term Side Effects of Drinking Alcohol
Even if you only drink socially, your alcohol consumption can still cause several side effects. While these can vary based on several factors, including your sex, weight, and biological makeup, some of the most common short-term side effects of drinking include:
- Reduced cognitive functions
- Mood swings
- Slowed reflexes
- Loss of balance
- Impaired judgment
- Memory loss
- Disrupted sleep
- Increased heart rate
- Nausea and vomiting
Heavy drinking, even on just one occasion, can put individuals at risk of experiencing more severe side effects. These may include:
- Irregular heartbeat.
- High blood pressure.
- Physical injuries, whether from falling, drunk driving, or involvement in any other risky behaviors and activities.
- Increased chance of participating in risky sexual activities.
Binge Drinking and Alcohol Poisoning
Drinking excessively, or binge drinking can also have negative consequences. Drinking more alcohol than what is recommended can lead to alcohol poisoning, which is a result of the body becoming overwhelmed by the amount of alcohol in your system and no longer being able to continue processing it.
Alcohol poisoning is a condition that can quickly become life-threatening if left unaddressed and may cause several symptoms, including:
- Mental confusion
- Trouble staying conscious
- Difficulty breathing
- Reduced heart rate
- Clammy skin
- Very low body temperature
Long-Term Side Effects of Drinking Alcohol
Heavy drinkers who abuse alcohol frequently and over a long period of time, will likely experience a more extensive list of unpleasant side effects from their unhealthy alcohol use. These may include:
- Cardiovascular issues and heart damage.
- Brain damage and shrinkage, and decreased cognitive functions/abilities.
- Liver damage and failure.
- Fatty liver (steatosis).
- Alcoholic hepatitis.
- Liver cancer.
- Pancreatic issues.
- Nutritional deficiencies.
- Impaired immune system.
- Increased likelihood of cancer, including breast, liver, esophageal, head and neck, and colorectal cancer.
- Musculoskeletal health risks.
Social Drinking vs Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol is an accepted part of socializing in many cultures, and responsible social drinking can be enjoyed without leading to alcohol abuse.
Drinking with social motives is drinking with the intention of enjoying the company of friends and family members, while alcohol abuse involves drinking to the point of intoxication or to escape negative feelings.
Social drinking is typically done in moderation and is considered to be a form of leisure activity. It is done with meals, at parties, or other events and is meant to be enjoyed in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
Observing Alcohol Consumption Carefully
People who drink socially often pay attention to their limits and stop drinking as soon as they feel any signs of intoxication. They may usually go for a single glass of wine, or hold onto a bottle of beer or other mild beverage while out.
Alcohol abuse, on the other hand, can be defined as excessive drinking that has a negative effect on a person’s life. People who suffer from alcohol abuse may drink excessively to escape from problems or to cope with unpleasant emotions.
A problem drinker may drink more than their body can safely handle and become intoxicated. This can lead to impaired judgment and bad decisions, and can even cause physical or mental harm.
It is important to distinguish the difference between social drinking and alcohol abuse. Responsible social drinking can be a fun and low-risk activity, while excessive alcohol consumption can lead to drinking problems and physical dependence on this substance.
Defining Your Relationship With Alcohol: How to Recognize an Alcohol Use Disorder
While it may seem easy to recognize when someone is struggling with drug abuse, this often is not the case. Particularly in the case of alcohol addiction, the wide social acceptability of this substance can make recognizing an alcohol dependence particularly difficult.
Fortunately, there are several signs that can be looked out for that can serve as an indication that you or a loved one may be struggling with alcohol abuse. These include:
- Constantly thinking about and looking forward to your next drink.
- Using alcohol as a reward for completing difficult or even everyday tasks.
- Drinking more or for longer than originally intended.
- Experiencing problems at work, school, or home due to alcohol use.
- Being unable to quit drinking on your own.
- Feeling like you are leading a double life or hiding your alcohol use.
- Developing withdrawal symptoms when not using alcohol.
Just as people drink for different reasons, so too will they experience different side effects from their alcohol abuse. Generally, though, if you recognize any of the above behaviors in yourself or a loved one, then it’s time to get help.
Treating an Alcohol Dependence or Addiction
Alcohol addiction is a serious problem that can affect people of all ages, backgrounds, and genders. Many people struggle with alcohol addiction, and it can be difficult to overcome. Fortunately, there are treatments available to help people who are struggling with alcohol addiction.
The first step in treating alcohol addiction is admitting that there is a problem. This can be a difficult step, but it is necessary in order to find the right treatment. After admitting that there is a problem, it is important to seek professional help.
Speaking with a Find Addiction Rehabs addiction treatment specialist can help you assess the severity of your addiction and discuss your best course of treatment. The most effective treatment for alcohol addiction is a combination of behavioral therapies and clinical services.
Therapy can help individuals address the underlying issues that contribute to the addiction, such as stress, depression, or anxiety. Medications, such as naltrexone and acamprosate, can help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
In addition to professional help, there are several steps that an individual can take to help treat an alcohol addiction. These steps include avoiding relapse triggers, such as people or places that may encourage drinking, and replacing alcohol with healthier activities, such as exercise.
It is also important to find a support system of family and friends who can help encourage the individual to stay on track. Alcohol addiction is a serious problem, but it is possible to overcome it with the right treatment.
Seeking professional help, avoiding triggers, and finding a sober support system are all essential steps in treating alcohol dependence. With the right treatment and support, individuals can learn to live healthier, alcohol-free life.
The Importance of Medical Detox for Alcohol
Alcohol detox is the process of abstaining from alcohol and allowing the body to rid itself of any toxins that have built up in the body due to excessive alcohol consumption. It is an important step in the recovery process for those who have developed an addiction to alcohol.
The first step in the alcohol detox process is to stop drinking. However, this can be a difficult and painful process, as the body is used to having an abundance of alcohol in the system.
Participating in a medical detox program can help you taper off of your alcohol use while under constant medical supervision and support. This can help minimize any withdrawal symptoms that may occur, reducing your risk of relapse.
Withdrawal symptoms can be severe and can include hallucinations, tremors, confusion, seizures, delirium tremens and wet brain, and even death in some cases. Medical professionals can monitor the body and provide medications to help reduce the severity of both your psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms.
It is important to have a supportive and understanding environment during an alcohol detox. This can include family, friends, and professionals such as counselors and therapists. These people can provide encouragement and help you stay on track with your recovery.
Once the detox process has been completed, most individuals will be encouraged to seek out other levels of care in order to further help them build healthier habits and maintain their sobriety.
FAQs on Social Drinking:
Is there a Safe Way to Drink Alcohol?
With moderate drinking, most people do not experience significant adverse reactions to their alcohol intake. Generally, though, drinking less is considered to be safest. In most cases, men are recommended to consume no more than two alcoholic beverages in one instance, while women should not have more than one drink.
While drinking in moderation to celebrate special occasions or while in social settings is considered to be fairly normal, unhealthy alcohol consumption can be dangerous and habit-forming, no matter what the situation is.
How Much Alcohol is Too Much?
While having one or two drinks is, for the most part, relatively normal, some individuals may find themselves exceeding this amount. While everyone’s tolerance level is different, generally, having five or more drinks is considered “binge drinking.”
This behavior can lead to several issues, including an increased risk of alcohol poisoning. Those who frequently exceed the recommended limit for consuming alcohol are called binge drinkers and likely have a drinking problem.
Can I Stop Drinking Alcohol On My Own?
Whether recovering from alcohol addiction or any other form of drug abuse, it is never recommended to attempt this process alone. Particularly for those who are physically dependent on alcohol, getting clean can come with several complications.
Getting professional help can make sure that you safely recover not just from your surface-level addiction, but from its underlying causes as well. Speak with a Find Addiction Rehabs representative today to get started on your recovery journey!
Get Help to Stop Drinking Today!
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse, help is available to get your life back on track. The Find Addiction Rehabs team is dedicated to helping those struggling with addiction find the treatment they need.
Our hotline is available 24/7 so that you can get answers to all of your recovery questions and find effective rehab programs nationwide, no matter what time it is. Call now, and we help you get started on your recovery journey today!
Nicole Rogers is an experienced and accomplished writer with special interests in the fields of Anthropology, English, and behavioral health, and has written countless articles for newspaper publications, institutional research journals, and Find Addiction Rehabs.
Her alma mater is Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. Nicole hopes to spread awareness of and combat the stigmatization surrounding addiction and substance abuse treatment through her writing and work in the field.