What Counts as Social Drinking?

If you’ve ever dealt with a problem drinker, you know that they’re often full of excuses. They have one for why they didn’t pick you up on time from some event. They have others for why they’re drinking so much and why the drinking they’re doing isn’t as serious as it appears.

Many drinkers don’t want to have to get into drug and alcohol treatment. They might like things just as they are, and they don’t want to change. You may hear them say they’re only social drinkers, and there’s nothing harmful about that.

This brings up the question of what constitutes social drinking. It’s not something that everyone can agree on, but we can at least nail down the definition to some degree.

Drinking by Yourself is Not Social Drinking

Most people can agree that if you drink by yourself, that’s the antithesis of social drinking. The term “social” indicates you’re with other people. It follows that if you’re alone and you’re consuming alcohol, you’re not drinking socially, and only a hardcore alcoholic is likely to disagree with that statement.

If you have someone drinking alcohol alone on their back deck, and they claim they’re drinking socially because they can see some neighbors in the adjoining yard, that’s someone who is reaching for an excuse. If someone says something like that to you, this person is more than likely a problem drinker.

Drinking with Your Nuclear Family is Not Social Drinking

If you’re drinking with your nuclear family members, most people would agree that’s not social drinking. You likely see these individuals every day. If you say that you only drink socially, and you have several drinks around dinnertime or in the evenings when your family is around, you’re likely using them as an excuse.

The one exception might be if relatives who you don’t see every day come to visit. If you have a couple of beers with them, you might make the case that it counts as social drinking.

Drinking at Parties or with Friends is Social Drinking

We’ve talked about what doesn’t count as social drinking, but what exactly does? Most people seem to feel that if you go out to a bar with some friends from work, that’s social drinking. If you go to a house party and have a drink or two, that’s social drinking. If you go to a baseball game with friends and buy some beers at the concession stand, that’s social drinking.

You can certainly argue and quibble about what is and isn’t social drinking, and some people do. However, the ones who get the most up in arms about what counts as social drinking and what doesn’t are typically those who like to use this excuse to consume alcohol.

It’s not so much about whether you drink socially. What matters more is how much you drink when you do. If you’re drinking 15 beers every night, then you have an alcohol problem, regardless of the situation or who’s around you.