What is social drinking?
If you think you are OK with alcohol you may also be asking what is social drinking?
Many people do, sometimes it is a way of justifying how much we drink and we just don’t have a clue what we are supposed to drink without pushing the boundaries.
In fact, we may just be in denial like when we go to the Doctor.
They ask questions about how many units we drink and of course we never really just tell the truth.
And sometimes we just don’t know!
The fact is we don’t really know the answer to “Is social drinking is OK?
Officially of course there is an answer.
Who is that social drinker?
“It’s OK I’ m a social drinker!”
You hear it a lot to be fair.
And of course what this means is from that lunch out to a few drinks after work.
You only really consume alcohol where you mixed with others.
That may include friends and family of course.
What if you are like Miss Piggy from the Muppetts and having a “me” party does that count? Just a drink for one please.
This is the problem with the labels from alcoholic to moderate drinker they are all down to interpretation.
In fact the only one bit of surefire advice in the UK. That’s about units.
What are the recommended units for alcohol?
This is not a goal either buy the way!
It is actually the clearest bit of advice and the rest pale into insignificance.
It is approximately no more 14 units per week
In the UK this one measure, a standard measure or “small” as many people call it nowadays.
So half a lager or standard glass of wine.
So think 1 unit is 1 standard measure! Read more below.
The thing is I was just a big wine drinker but if someone had asked me I would have said I was a “social drinker”.
I rarely drunk and it seemed everyone around me drank at least the same if not more!
However, I nearly lost my life so go figure!
The effect of social alcohol can sometimes be a bigger threat as you just don’t see any issues coming your way.
However, a so -called expert would describe a “social drinker” as someone who drinks at social events and for that reason it is not affecting you in any serious way.
The problem with the definition is some people can just “social drink” and be way over the limit.
As you can see different interpretations of what social drinking is means it could be drinking with your partner at home watching TV.
Friday night was food and a few bottles of wine.
Is that social drinking or not?
“Social drinker” “Moderate Drinker” “Problem Drinker”?
I always think of my colleague who had a few drinks per night. She came back from the doctor and was told she was a technically an “alcoholic”.
And yet she was fit as a fiddle.
But of course the doctor was going on the 14 unit per week limit.
A big glass of wine can in reality be 4 units at least.
Drink a big glass and you have hit 8 units. You get the end idea and it’s only Tuesday!
We can often change the frame to fit the label and to be fair that is why I am a fan of the 14 unit rule but minus the label.
So what if said I am a “moderate drinker” rather than a “social moderate drinker” or “I drink mainly at home”.
You can already see how these words are loaded with different types of emotion!
As a moderate drinker I would officially be considered to be drinking every day.
So depending on if I was male or female that would be 2 or 1 drinks.
Of course drink size would not come into it or my or overall health!
In fact, it does not even talk about our mental health which can be a major factor!
Now when I talk about being “ill” from social drinking people often think of me on a park bench with a bottle of vodka when in reality I was enjoying a long lunch with friends.
People seem to only make these judgments of you when you give up drinking.
When you are in a bar or restaurant and order more wine no one bats an eyelid.
Weird I know!
Of course as a problem drinker I would also have mental, physical and social issues, but really I was very healthy until my liver started to fail!
You can see how confusing it is.
So yes I am not a fan of “labels” as they really don’t mean anything but of course with units at least you can’t misinterpret that.
Well not if you look it up anyway.
In reality, we may be surrounded by more alcoholics than we first think!
So it seems the rule is that if you are a “social drinker” you are OK.
I might be a bit cynical on that one and to be honest so are the Doctors I have spoken to.
Can Socially Drinking Be OK?
Yes of course!
But remember alcohol is a poison!
We are back to that word called balance and if you are keep it measured many people are fine.
It just depends again on what our interpretation of measured is.
A social drinker who drinks in social situations does so for lots of reasons’ and many include mental health and well-being.
In fact people mental health can be improved by social contact so :
- Lunches with Friends
- Family Gatherings
People can also drink at these events because of the stress of having to go to them.
Again it is one of the issues with making a general statement about what it is to be a social drinker!
This includes events such as work outings, parties, and other gatherings with family and friends.
Social drinkers often consume a moderate amounts of alcohol and are well within their safe drinking limits, though this isn’t always the case.
It also depends on the starting point for your health as well.
Of course if you are pregnant or driving then being social drinker is not a good idea at all!
It is one of the reasons’ alcohol free drinks like beers are now experimenting with the labels that states if it is “driving” or “pregnancy” friendly.
What a great idea.
So here is a thought, what if you are a moderate drinker who enjoys social drinking? Can you see and feel how confusing it can be!
Social drinkers enjoy moderate amounts of alcohol because they like to have a drink and mix with others.
That makes total sense.
What you are a social drinker and drinking over the recommended weekly amount?
In some cases some social drinkers just keep on drinking but then say “its OK I just drink socially”
It’s easier to say that than “I am a moderate or problem drinker”. Its an opt out.
Just say you are a “social drinker” !
And society encourages that!
It is why I keep coming back to if you are drinking over 14 units per week then its worth a check.
Now I hate labels because a habit is really a behaviour and it’s not who we are.
Imagine standing up every week and having to confess you are an alcoholic as opposed to saying “I drink too much”.
Once something becomes ingrained at an identity level it becomes harder to change.
As a coach when working with someone with an alcohol issue it can very often be at the identity level rather than the behaviour.
“Change the label – change the behaviour”
If you label yourself a “social drinker” but then give it your own definition no one knows what it really means.
So let’s take someone who defines themselves as a “social drinker” and compare it to some of the bench markers of a so-called “alcoholic”.
So as a social drinker you?
- Just you keep drinking when you know you should stop?
- You say that’s my “last one” then go on to have several more?
- Use drinking to help anxiety before a social event?
- To you “social drinking” means binge drinking at the weekend.
- Most of your friends are social drinkers but you probably think they a moderate drinkers
- You go out and you say to others “I am just a social drinker” and keep saying it.
- Forget things the next day like “how you got home”.
- You just drink socially but get the shakes the next morning.
- You wake up in a stranger’s bed after social drinking.
- You pick an argument after a few glasses of wine
- You use social drinking to escape issues?
- It is costing you more and more?
You get the idea!
To get an idea how much you are really drinking in terms of units per week the best recommended resource is the drink aware website in the UK but available anywhere.
How Can I Help Myself ?
The social pressure of alcohol is immense as we try to fit in with others. Getting a new hobby which I write about here is a great thing to do.
Write in a unit diary of what you actually drink.
In any change programme you need to know where you are before you set out a path for where you want to go.
Be social without alcohol and remove it from your fridge at home.
See someone like a BWRT practitioner. I have included the website here for reference. It’s a great therapy and does not focus on labels.
Try out a range of alcohol free options from gin to beer and cider. Do a search on my blog.
As a social drinker ( whatever that means ) going alcohol free has changed my life and I no longer drink alcohol at all. Zero
Consider hypnotherapy with one of the best coaches in the business. Mark Tyrrel. He has a great online course to help with addiction from chocolate to alcohol.
You can try it out from the comfort of your own home and the affiliate link is below.
I get a small fee but you pay the same.
How would you describe yourself as a drinker?
If you are a social drinker how many units do you drink per week?
How would you describe yourself, a problem, moderate or a social drinker?
Have you ever wondered if your social drinking has got out of hand?
Have you tried an alcohol free option like wine to break up the alcohol?
I would love to know your views on what is social drinking. Leave a message below and I always get back to you.