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5 Signs Social Drinking Has Become a Problem

Social Drinking – Friend or Foe?

It’s a Friday night, and you’ve been looking forward to this night all week long. You enjoy social drinking, and you and your friends have a fun weekend planned. You’ll be meeting at a local club later on for drinks and then it all happens again the following night. You figure that it’s pretty harmless. It’s not like you go out all the time, and you deserve to be able to unwind with your friends after a hard week of work, don’t you? Unfortunately, many people feel this way about social drinking, and more often than not, what appeared to be an innocent form of entertainment at one point in their lives can quickly end up becoming a full-blown addiction to alcohol. Perhaps you can relate to this scenario and you’ve always thought of yourself as a social drinker. If that’s the case, then there are a few signs you should watch for to indicate that your social drinking might be getting out of hand.

  1. Increased Tolerance – Social drinkers are at serious risk of developing an alcohol addiction because of the fact that when they drink, even if they only drink in social settings, their tolerance increases. Over time, it takes more and more alcohol for them to achieve those relaxed feelings they’re looking for, and the human brain craves those feelings after a while. If you’re finding that while you used to be satisfied with having one or two drinks at a party, but now you need four or five, your tolerance is increasing.
  2. Equating Alcohol with Relaxing – In social settings, alcohol helps you to relax and have a good time. You laugh and you enjoy your friends’ company. The brain quickly learns to equate alcohol with those feelings, and it’s not surprising that many people will eventually turn to alcohol to relax when they’re also in stressful or challenging situations. Many addictions begin because a social drinker faced a major, life-changing event and decided to use alcohol to achieve a sense of relaxation. The two have been connected within his brain for years, and whereas alcohol was once seen as a treat, it’s become a coping mechanism.
  3. Stretching the Truth – If someone asks you how many drinks you’ve had one evening and you don’t give an honest answer, that should be a major red flag for you. You might think of it as stretching the truth, but in reality, you’re lying so that the other person doesn’t think you’re an alcoholic. As soon as you feel the need to lie about how much alcohol you’ve had to drink, you may have already crossed the threshold into dependence and/or addiction.
  4. Defending Your Drinking – One of the classic signs of alcohol addiction is when a person finds it necessary to defend their drinking. Perhaps a person has come up to you at a party and questioned whether or not you were OK to drive home. Or, maybe someone you care about has noticed that you’ve been drinking excessively; even when you’re not in a social situation. You might still consider yourself to be a social drinker, but if the people you care about are asking questions and you feel the need to defend yourself, you might have a serious problem.
  5. Turning Down Invitations that Don’t Involve Drinking – There are many situations and events that simply don’t include alcohol. Your friend might be having a birthday party for his daughter and invite you to attend, or you might be asked to go to a wedding where alcohol will not be served. If the presence of alcohol at an event has some influence on your willingness to attend, that is a sure sign that you’ve developed an addiction.

Many people consider themselves to be social drinkers when in reality they’re not. Social drinking is viewed as being a much safer way to drink, but the key is moderation. Moderation is defined as one drink per day for women and a maximum of two drinks a day for men. Any more than that is excessive, and if it happens on a regular basis, dependence and addiction will almost always follow. Have you seen yourself or recognized any of your own actions in one or more of these five warning signs? If you have, please understand that help is available to you. Realizing that you have a problem is always the first step prior to seeking treatment for alcohol addiction, and we would love to guide you through the rest of the steps toward recovery. Please contact us.