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Alcohol: Social Drinker or Alcohol Abuser?

Social drinker or abuser?

We have all heard someone say, I only drink on the weekendsor I only drink at parties.This sounds acceptable because it indicates the person is a social drinkermeaning they only drink at parties, on special occasions or at family gatherings. This also depicts the person as a responsible drinker. Theres no specific number of drinks associated with social drinking, but a social drinker is not bingeing or getting drunk.

When does this social drinking turn into problem drinking or alcoholism?

Although there are many signs alcohol has become a problem for someone, those signs may be hard to recognize. Alcohol abuse is usually a longer process than someone trying for the first time, then abusing heroin.

What are the signs of a social drinker vs. those of a problem drinker or alcohol abuser?

A social drinker

does not feel the need to drink to have a good time.

does not do or say things they later regret after drinking or get into trouble due to the drinking.

drinks occasionally and do not have to worry or think about their intake or cutting back on their alcohol consumption.

Signs that a person has moved out of the category of a social drinker:

finding the need to drink more at each sitting,

increasing to more days throughout the week

becoming irresponsible at home or at work and they continuing to drink despite the negative consequences

It is difficult to see this progression, especially when the person lives alone, has few close friends or stays home more often rather than socializing with their friends. As their alcohol abuse increases, it becomes more common for the person to drink alone. Drinking socially may appear to have fewer health risks than problem drinking or alcohol abuse but it is equally risky.

The short-term effects of problem drinking vary in intensity based on the physical condition of the person and the amount of consumption and can range from everything from slurred speech, vomiting and headaches to breathing difficulties, unconsciousness and coma. Long-term effects can range from alcohol poisoning, liver disease and nerve damage to high blood pressure, stroke and other heart related diseases. Long-term alcohol consumption can lead to gastrointestinal disease, cardiovascular disease and cancer. If a problem drinker or alcohol abuser already has high blood pressure, their continuous drinking can escalate that problem to the point of having a stroke. If a problem drinker drinks to the point they feel nauseous and they lie down to sleep it off or they pass out, they risk vomiting in their unconscious state and may choke on their own vomit, which can be fatal.

Drinking alcoholic beverages certainly does not have the same stigma as heroin or meth addiction. This is probably because alcohol is not only legal, it is socially acceptable. However, when a person drinks and drives and kills innocent people due to their impaired and irresponsible judgement, or the alcoholic becomes violent with family members and loved ones, it is very visible there is a problem.

It is at this point most families seek treatment solutions. Knowing the signs of social drinking vs. alcohol abuse can help people recognize when a loved one needs treatment. Statistically, the sooner an alcoholic is treated, the easier it becomes to handle their alcohol addiction and help them achieve lasting sobriety.

Long-term treatment options like Narconon which handle both the physical and mental effects of drinking are known to create the best results for those who have escalated from social drinker to alcohol abuser. Seeking effective treatment is key!

alcohol-attributable-deaths-pie-chart

Graph source: mic.com, articles 89615-alcohol killed 3.3 million people in 2012
Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

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