How to Cut Back on Social Drinking (2:11)
Sometimes it can be tough to know whether your drinking is healthy or not. Are you a social drinker? Habitual drinker? Alcoholic? Let’s start by getting a better sense of the definitions.
Social drinking can be hard to define, but social drinkers generally drink only occasionally when they’re in social situations. They probably don’t feel like they need alcohol to have a good time and don’t spend a lot of time thinking about when their next drink is going to be. Their drinking also never lands them in trouble.
Habitual drinking is similar to social drinking, but here the drinking has become a habit of daily life. You might have a drink each day after work or after the children are asleep, much like you might make yourself coffee in the morning. This drinking isn’t necessarily problematic, but in many cases, alcohol has begun to serve an essential role for the habitual drinker. It might be used as a way to relax or fall asleep, for example.
Alcohol abuse is defined as drinking that leads to negative consequences. Your drinking might affect your relationships with family, friends or occupation. There might be legal consequences, including divorce or separation, or financial problems related to drinking. In spite of some of these problems, you also continue drinking, knowing that it might be better if you stopped. Fortunately, you’re not addicted yet, and modifying your behavior can keep you off that road.
Alcohol addiction is evident when you try to modify your behavior and can’t. You try to cut back or stop all together and fail in spite of family and friends who may have pointed out the problem and asked you to stop. Your tolerance to alcohol builds, forcing you to increase your drinking over time. You probably drink more than you plan to and use alcohol as a way to cope with your feelings.
If you are addicted to alcohol, know that it’s treatable. It can be hard to imagine when you’re addicted. In fact, it was impossible for me to imagine a life without drinking when I was addicted. But we do recover, and life can and will take on a new meaning. I was once hopelessly addicted, but I have not had a drink in more than 21 years. I am proof that it is possible to recover from addiction, thrive, and find peace and joy in your life.
When I have clients who are questioning their relationship with alcohol, I make three suggestions.