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Social Drinking vs Alcohol Addiction: Facts you should know

Social Drinking vs. Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD): What You Need to Know

Drinking is a part of many cultures and social gatherings.

Whether it’s sipping wine with dinner or unwinding at the end of a long day with a cold beer, alcohol can be a relaxing and enjoyable experience for many people. However, when social drinking becomes problematic and starts leading to serious health and life disruptions, it can become a cause for concern.

Understanding the difference between low-risk, moderate social drinking and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) can help you make informed decisions about your alcohol consumption and prevent the damaging effects of alcohol addiction. What is Social Drinking?

Social drinking is a term used to describe drinking in social settings, typically with friends or family members. The primary reasons for social drinking may include fitting in/bonding with others, relaxation, celebration, or peer pressure.

Some people may be more prone to social drinking due to cultural or familial influences, while others may only drink on special occasions. The distinction between social drinking and AUD lies in the level of consumption and the impact it has on a person’s life.

Low-risk, moderate social drinking is characterized by consuming one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women, with a maximum of seven drinks per week for women and 14 for men. When drinking crosses these thresholds, it becomes excessive and riskier for your health and safety.

Reasons for social drinking

One of the primary reasons why many people turn to social drinking is for the feeling of bonding or fitting in with others. Social drinking helps us feel like we belong and connect with others who share similar interests.

It is an excellent social lubricant and helps create a relaxed atmosphere in social settings. Many people also consume alcohol as a way to de-stress and relax after a long day at work or as an aid for anxiety reduction.

Another reason why people drink socially is to celebrate milestones and special occasions. Alcohol is often seen as a symbol of celebration and joy, and it is a common ritual in many cultures worldwide.

Lastly, people may feel peer pressure to drink because of their friends’ and colleagues’ behavior, leading to the normalization of excessive alcohol consumption.

Safe social drinking

Low-risk, moderate drinking can have some health benefits, such as decreasing the risk of heart disease, but this can be easily offset by high-risk drinking behaviors.

Safe social drinking is the key to avoiding developing AUD, and takes into account factors such as the frequency and intensity of drinking.

Moderation and responsible drinking are crucial to limiting the negative effects of alcohol on your mind and body.

Signs of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

AUD is a medical condition in which a person engages in alcohol consumption that goes beyond social drinking and interferes with daily life. AUD may start as casual drinking but then progresses into uncontrollable drinking habits once a person becomes addicted.

The following are some indicators that social drinking has turned into AUD:

– Unable to stop drinking or control the amount of alcohol consumed. – Binge drinking: regularly consuming excessive amounts of alcohol in a short period, leading to blackouts or memory loss.

– Physical withdrawal: experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, shaking, and sweating when not consuming alcohol. – Risky behavior: engaging in dangerous activities while under the influence, such as driving or operating heavy machinery.

– Concerns from others: friends and loved ones expressing concern over excessive drinking habits. – Shame/guilt: feeling guilty and ashamed after drinking excessively.

– Denial: inability to accept the severity of one’s alcohol addiction. – Frequent hangovers and morning drinking: drinking to alleviate the hangover symptoms or to start the day.

– Drinking alone: consuming alcohol alone or outside of social settings. – Unable to quit despite harmful consequences: continuing to drink excessively despite health, relationship, or work-related problems.

Alcohol use quiz

If you’re unsure whether you have problem drinking habits, consider taking an alcohol use quiz. These quizzes are helpful tools to identify the signs of AUD and give people the opportunity to assess their alcohol consumption behavior.

Many online resources, such as the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, offer self-assessment quizzes for individuals to determine whether their alcohol consumption is problematic.


In conclusion, social drinking and AUD are two different concepts with varying levels of consumption and impact on a person’s life.

Safe social drinking can have some health benefits, but excessive consumption can turn into AUD, leading to various mental and physical health problems.

Recognizing the signs of AUD and taking steps to reduce excessive alcohol consumption is crucial for maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Relearning Social Drinking After AUD: Is it Possible?

After completing a treatment program and achieving sobriety, some people may want to return to social drinking. However, for those who once struggled with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), relearning how to drink alcohol in moderation can be challenging and dangerous.

While some people believe in abstinence as the only solution for AUD, some medications and therapies can help people moderate their drinking. Additionally, it would be best to seek professional supervision to relearn social drinking effectively.

Possibility of relearning social drinking

Some people who had AUD may be able to relearn social drinking through controlled drinking with professional support. According to studies, around 30-40% of people who successfully complete treatment can drink moderately without relapse.

However, the decision to relearn social drinking should be based on each individual’s circumstances, such as mental health, general health, level of addiction, and patient preference. One approach to relearning social drinking is the medication-based method called The Sinclair Method (TSM).

TSM uses a combination of medication and behavioral therapy to reduce cravings and gradually retrain the brain’s response to alcohol. The medication helps to block the brain’s pleasure receptors, gradually reducing interest and pleasure in drinking.

By drinking while on this medication, people with AUD can detach the previously associated pleasure and reward that drinking brings with it. Professional support is crucial for those relearning social drinking to identify and manage any triggers that could increase the risk of relapse.

A medical professional can also monitor the patient’s physical and mental health and adjust the dosage of the medication based on their response.

Need for professional supervision

Since addiction is a chronic disease, transitioning from AUD to social drinking needs ongoing professional support. Sobriety can cause specific anxieties that can trigger relapse, such as the fear of missing out or social pressures.

Professional supervision can help a patient develop alternative coping strategies and identify and manage the triggers that could lead to relapse. Health care professionals have expert knowledge of addiction, treatment, behavioral therapy, and medication.

They can advise the patient on whether controlled drinking is a viable option for them. In addition, professional support can detect warning signs of relapse and intervene promptly to prevent it.

The Takeaway on Social Drinking

Despite the potential risks of alcohol misuse, social drinking remains prevalent and a common part of many social gatherings. While many people enjoy a glass of wine with dinner or a beer with friends, others may develop habitual drinking patterns that can lead to dependency issues.

Solutions for a healthier relationship

Abstinence is one solution for those who struggle with AUD. However, there are other ways to establish and maintain a healthier relationship with alcohol.

Avoiding high-risk situations, developing non-alcoholic habits, and incorporating alternative activities can reduce the risk of dependency. Non-alcoholic drinks have been rapidly increasing, and getting creative with your drinks can be a fun and delicious way of avoiding alcohol yet still enjoying social events.

Professional support is also crucial in establishing a healthier relationship with alcohol. Support providers, such as Ria Health, can offer a range of treatment programs for those struggling with alcohol addiction.

Ria provides a convenient and accessible telemedicine solution for patients by using virtual care to connect them with licensed healthcare professionals for counseling, medication management, and support. In conclusion, while social drinking can be a pleasurable experience for many people, it is essential to understand the potential risks of alcohol misuse and dependency.

However, with the right support, by avoiding high-risk situations, developing alternative activities, medication-based therapy such as The Sinclair Method (TSM), and professional support, people can maintain a healthy and balanced relationship with alcohol. In conclusion, understanding the difference between social drinking and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is crucial to preventing the damaging effects of alcohol addiction.

Safe social drinking can have some health benefits, but excessive consumption can turn into AUD, leading to various mental and physical health problems. If you are struggling with AUD, several treatment options, including abstinence, medication-based therapy, and professional support, can help you achieve sobriety and establish a healthier relationship with alcohol.


1. What is social drinking, and what are the reasons for it?

– Social drinking is consuming alcohol in social settings with friends or family. Its primary reasons are bonding with others, celebration, relaxation, and peer pressure.

2. What are the signs of AUD?

– The signs of AUD include the inability to stop drinking or control alcohol consumption, binge drinking, physical withdrawal symptoms, risky behavior, concerns from others, guilt, denial, frequent hangovers, drinking alone, and the inability to quit. 3.

Can people with AUD relearn social drinking? – Yes, some people may learn to drink socially with professional support and medications such as The Sinclair Method (TSM).

4. How can people develop a healthier relationship with alcohol?

– People can develop a healthier relationship with alcohol by avoiding high-risk situations, incorporating alternative activities, and seeking professional support. Non-alcoholic drinks are also a safer way of enjoying social gatherings without alcohol.

5. How prevalent is social drinking and the risk of dependency?

– Social drinking is prevalent in many cultures, but excessive drinking increases the risk of dependency, leading to various health problems.

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