Drinking alcohol is a common social activity, and most people can enjoy a drink without it becoming problematic. However, some individuals may struggle with alcohol addiction or dependency, which can lead to a host of problems for themselves and those around them. We will explore the differences between social drinkers and alcoholics and provide insight into the behaviors and symptoms that may indicate alcohol abuse.
Telling the difference between a social drinker and an alcoholic can help you determine whether it’s crossed the line from social activity to an addiction. North Ward Behavioral Health Center’s behavioral health specialists in Newark, NJ, is ready to help you or a loved one identify the striking differences between an alcoholic and a social drinker.
What is a Social Drinker?
A social drinker enjoys alcohol in moderation and as part of a social activity. They can regulate their drinking and do not require alcohol to have a good time. Social drinkers consume alcohol at appropriate times and do not let it interfere with important commitments or obligations such as work or family life. They understand the importance of drinking responsibly and avoid driving while intoxicated. While they may enjoy the occasional drink to relieve stress, they do not rely on alcohol to cope with life’s challenges.
Alcoholism and Addiction
In contrast, alcoholics suffer from a dependency on alcohol that can result in destructive behaviors and habits. Alcoholism is a chronic disease that affects millions of people worldwide. Unlike social drinkers, alcoholics may experience intense cravings and struggle to regulate their drinking. Some individuals may function as high-performing alcoholics, maintaining a façade of normalcy despite their addiction. However, their addiction can eventually manifest in physical and emotional symptoms impacting their daily lives.
What “Social” Is Key to Social Drinking?
For a social drinker, it is about companionship, having a fun evening out, or a chance to relieve some stress. It’s about relaxing and the lift derived from favored spirits. There is a particular element of enjoying the drinks you choose, and it’s more often about celebrating life with people you want than trying to forget your troubles.
Even though it does relieve the stress of the day or work week, social drinkers don’t rely on alcohol every time they get stressed out.
Social drinkers choose the times they drink and not drink whatever the time. They do not let it interfere with meaningful work, family commitments, or essential obligations. Social drinkers are generally aware of the value of drinking responsibly when they’ve had enough. They make allowances to avoid driving while intoxicated and know when they’ve had enough. Sometimes, they underestimate their blood alcohol content (BAC).
People may start their drinking lives equating getting drunk with having a good time, but it doesn’t take long to discover how ill-advised and immature this attitude can be. There are lessons learned, and once they negotiate this minefield, most grow up and handle their drinking more responsibly. Those who don’t are likely headed toward alcoholism or binge drinking, an intermittent pattern of alcohol consumption.
Signs of Alcoholism
Before you can get alcohol addiction treatment in Newark, NJ, you need to know and understand the warning sign. If you are concerned about your own or someone else’s drinking habits, watch out for these tell-tale signs of alcoholism:
Drinking to Get Drunk
Many people use alcohol as a way to grow more comfortable in social situations. However, alcoholics often drink to excess, seeking the euphoric effects of alcohol. This behavior can lead to physical and emotional deterioration.
Putting Alcohol Above Responsibilities
Alcoholics may prioritize drinking over important commitments, including work, family, and social obligations. They may also fail to attend to essential responsibilities or deliver on promises. Missing work and calling in sick are signs of a growing addiction to alcohol.
Hiding Addiction from Loved Ones
Individuals struggling with alcohol addiction may hide their drinking from family and friends because they feel shame or fear of judgment. This behavior can damage relationships and exacerbate feelings of isolation.
Coping with Growing Difficulties
The erosion of self-esteem drives alcoholics to drink with every difficult decision or challenge in their lives. Alcoholics may turn to alcohol to cope with challenging situations, leading to a dependency that can impede their ability to function without the substance.
Drinking and Driving Accidents
Accidents while under the influence of alcohol are rare for social drinkers but almost unavoidable for alcoholics who drive. Alcoholics end up in alcohol-related accidents, while social drinkers do not. Social drinkers seldom rationalize drinking and driving because they know the potential dangers of this choice. Alcoholics may know this intellectually, but alcoholic consumption neutralizes common sense.
The Differences between Social Drinkers and Alcoholics
While social drinkers can enjoy alcohol in moderation, alcoholics struggle with addiction and dependency. Alcoholics may lack the control necessary to regulate their drinking, which can result in harmful behaviors and habits. Some of the unique traits that separate alcoholics from social drinkers include:
- Obsession with alcohol and its role in their lives
- Inability to keep drinking under control
- Preference to socialize with heavy drinkers who share their destructive behavior
- Consistently breaking promises on drinking limits
- Destruction of willpower and constructive behavior
Contact North Ward Behavioral Arts for Treatment
If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol addiction, seeking help is crucial. Our company provides expert guidance and support for individuals looking to overcome addiction and rebuild their lives. Contact us today to learn more about our programs and take the first step toward a healthier, happier future.