Drinkers can be of various types. While some drink as a part of their social life, some drink to erode their worries and frustrations, and others are addicted. People who drink are not always alcoholics. As alcohol drinking is a popular social activity, so there are significant differences between social drinkers and alcoholics. By becoming aware of the warning signs of a high functioning alcoholic, one can pay heed to them and avoid becoming one. Long-term alcoholics need intervention.

Addicted alcoholics hide their habit
When people veer from social drinking to alcoholism, they usually try to conceal their drinking from those who are close to them. This is a warning sign because they deliberately wish to hide their drinking habit from their loved ones so as not to alarm or disappoint them. The fact is, the more they try to hide their drinking habit, the more serious their drinking problem becomes.

Way of coping
When people are social drinkers, they mostly loosen themselves up and relax with others. However, drinking is not something that they seek to de-stress themselves or when somthing goes very wrong in their life. However, an alcoholic drinker always drinks to cope with the most difficult situations in their life. They drink on a regular basis when they turn from social drinker to alcoholic. When someone needs the help of alcohol drinking to remain functional, this certainly means he or she has already developed a dependency on something dangerous like alcohol to change his or her life for the worse.

Drinking to get drunk
Social drinkers just drink for fun. However, alcoholics drink to get drunk. Drinking in excess can create problems with the body. So, when people want to get drunk, this means they can no longer set any boundaries on alcohol drinking.

Missing work
Alcoholics tend to miss their important work, damage other people’s lives, and miss out on other obligations, etc., because they stay busy drinking. Social drinkers will drink at specific times when they are usually free so that no important work is hampered. Social drinkers make sure that they do not over-drink, which ensures that they can attend to the important obligations of their lives. If they start ignoring these obligations because of drinking, they have certainly become alcoholic.

Drinking and driving
Alcoholics end up in alcohol-related accidents, while social drinkers do not. Alcoholics end up in drinking and driving situations, which is a danger to them and to others. However, for a social drinker, they know that drinking and driving is not permitted and can be fatal. So, even if they over-drink on a particular social occasion, they ensure not to drive on their own.

Striking differences between alcoholic and social drinkers
The most striking differences that distinguish between alcoholics and social drinkers can be noticed by some unique traits found in alcoholics, such as:

  • Alcoholics are unable to control their drinking
  • Alcoholics repeat unwanted drinking patterns
  • Alcoholics, after getting drunk, behave in ways that are detrimental to their lives
  • Alcoholics, though set drinking limits, cannot adhere to them
  • Alcoholics are obsessed about alcohol
  • Alcoholics always love to stay surrounded by heavy drinkers

The above characteristics are not exhibited by social drinkers.

Since 2001, Dr. Alexander G. Salerno has led Salerno Medical Associates in East Orange, New Jersey. Dr. Alexander Salerno focuses largely on urban communities and on delivering patient education about both medical and behavioral health issues.