How can you tell a social drinker from a problem drinker?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by MidwestMom, May 16, 2012.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I know somebody who can not and does not go out without drinking at least enough to get buzzed and most of her friends get drunk when they all go out (and do some really stupid stuff or say things they regret while drunk). She claims she likes to's fun. She is not drunk when she is not out with her friends.

    When can you say somebody has a problem and when is somebody just a social drinker? I know so many people who drink on a daily basis then get drunk on purpose at least one night a weekend. These aren't kids either! Hub and I are never invited to their parties, although we are sort of friends, but we don't drink. Is the drinking what it's all about? I'm just curious.
  2. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    That is very much a cultural question. I live in the area there people drink a lot and binge drink a lot. And do a lot of really stupid stuff while drank. Still most do not develop a real drinking problem. They may have some problems because of drinking but still drinking never becomes compulsive. I would think that difference is in if you are controlling your drinking or is drinking controlling you. Most of us (in this culture) have been sporting a hangover in a inappropriate time (at work, some family function, a time we should had been sharp) because drinking too much night before. But those are still considered normal learning experiences. When it comes a habit, you are considered to have a problem. When you are blowing off something important because of drinking, you have a problem. When you are not able to change your drinking habits for the needs of time and occasion, you have a problem (when you get drunk in the situation there you should had been drinking only a little, or when you are not able to transition from your wild college drinking days to having a family and drinking maybe a few beers a week (one or two at a time) and 'going to party' (and binge drinking) three or four times a year after careful planning, getting babysitters etc.) In some strictest definitions of drinking problems and alcoholism we here would probably have maybe 5 % of non-alcoholics in this country and all the others would be considered alcoholics. In reality we do have our fair share of alcoholics but the percentage here is around the same as in for example in USA, little less than 10 % being either alcoholics or problem drinkers or in risk becoming one. The big warning sign for alcohol problem is, when you are drinking against your cultural norms, whatever those norms are.

    About people not inviting sober people to the parties there alcohol will be consumed. It is probably not so much party being all about drinking but that some people feel uncomfortable drinking while there are people who don't drink present. And they may also think that you wouldn't enjoy those parties (at least I know that I don't particularly enjoy the company of the drunk people while sober my self.)
  3. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    I feel a little differently... Because I don't truly understand why anyone would want to get drunk, be out of control, feel horrid...

    If the whole point is to get drunk, and it's done on a regular basis... I would think that would be a problem, but not necessarily a huge one. When it starts interfering with real life, THEN it's a problem.

    For instance - about once a year me, husband, and the BFFs get together. Usually by the end of the evening no one is legally sober - but we're not going anywhere - and we're not hugging the toilet either. It's a buzz, no more. I've been really really drunk a couple of times and it's really not fun.

    But then - I know my limits, and when I pass those, I cannot stop myself. So I never get to that point, Know what I mean??
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    There have been times that I have gone out with the intent to drink to get drunk. I know thats the intent. One was at Jamie's 21st birthday. We had a bunch of his Marine friends over and we had a ton of liquor around and I knew we were drinking. We also werent going anywhere. It was a blast. I out drank a bunch of Marines and they thought Jamie had a cool mom...lmao.

    That is rare as hens teeth now. I have had one drink since then and it was a small appletini since I wanted to see what it was. It was good but I would love it if it came in a virgin one.

    I know lots of people who drink on weekends who have a 6 pack but no more.
  5. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Sigh. I don't understand why anyone would drink to get drunk, either. To relax, to taste the flavor, sure. But to purposely get drunk and rowdy is very juvenile. I'm sorry, but I don't know why you would want to be friends with-these people, MWM. Most of my friends drink, but not a single one ever really gets drunk (maybe we're just cheap ... it can really add to the cost of a meal and I hate paying the same amt for one glass of wine, for ex, that I would pay for an entire bottle at the grocery store :) ).

    I understand that it may be partially cultural, but people are individuals and need to use their brains. Culture does not trump common sense.
  6. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    It's a fine

    A problem drinker, in my opinion since I'm married to one, is a person who can't stop drinking. It can be a person who gets drunk every day or someone who doesn't drink except on the weekends. But if a person has three drinks and then can't stop until they get stupid and pass out, that's a problem. And like Step said, when a person's drinking habit interferes with their ability to cope, work, be a viable family member, etc., that's a problem.

    When my friend and I meet up at one another's home for a couple of glasses of wine, we're drinking sociably. Neither of us every gets wasted, but we do catch a buzz. Those occasions rarely if ever lay me up the next day nor my friend.

    I come from a long line of alcoholics so I happen to be very attuned to my own drinking capabilities. I make sure I eat, I drink water along with whatever I'm drinking so I stay hydrated and I don't drink if I'm driving. Someone who throws caution to the wind just so they can get their drunk on has a problem, in my opinion.
  7. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    P.S. I have been to parties where I arrived 2 hrs later than those who had been drinking. It was not fun at all for me. It makes a huge difference if you are the only sober one.
  8. muttmeister

    muttmeister Well-Known Member

    I think it depends on a lot of things. I'm not that much for putting labels on things so I've never really been concerned. To me, if you only drink with your friends and when you go out, you're a social drinker. If your drinking begins to interfere with your life IN ANY WAY, it is becoming a problem.

    As I look back at my life, I know there was a time when I was young that I drank way too much. I live in a rural area and that was about all there was for young adults to do here. We would go to the clubs (Legion, VFW, Eagles, Elks) and sometimes the bar every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night. We drank too much. At that point, I certainly didn't think I had a problem. I didn't miss work, I didn't get arrested, I didn't wreck my car, I didn't get into trouble, I didn't spend all of my money, I didn't drink alone, I didn't become an alcoholic, but as I look back on it it was definitely not a good thing. Was I a social drinker or a problem drinker? I still have no idea which but I "grew up" and don't do it anymore. I still drink occasionally but not very often and never more than a couple.

    As I look back I think it definitely does start out to be a social thing. Drinking loosens people's inhibitions and, after a drink or two, SOME of them become happier and more relaxed. Many people do have a better time when they have been drinking A LITTLE. That's probably why people have been doing it for thousands of years. If you are a social drinker, you definitely don't drink to get drunk. The problem is that if one tastes good, you have another and all at once you've had one too many without realizing it. It can sneak up on you.

    I think sometimes it is hard for us who are older to recognize when "kids are being kids" and when they actually have a problem. I am not opposed to drinking but, as somebody who's been there done that I know that you have to be really careful and be responsible for your own behavior or it can get out of control.
  9. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    LOL! Janet, your post came just before mine and it looks like I was saying you were juvenile. NOT. Your situation was a one shot deal (excuse the pun) and I was talking about people who repeatedly do it, and cannot drink with-out getting buzzed.

    P.S. If I had just done to my knee what you did to yours, I might change my mind on the whole topic... :)
  10. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    To be totally honest: Being drunk can be fun. At times it can also be super relaxing and at times it may be just what you needed at that time.

    I have very seldom become drunk without planning it. Few times when i was young and alcohol was new to me. Few times after that because some particular drink was sneaky; didn't taste hard at all, but really was. All the other times I have been drunk, I have planed it. No kids around, safe etc. Drinking and driving is totally out of question, it is something really contemned here where we live. Not even after two beers. Happens to be common problem with people especially from North America who come to live here (every year few of Canadian or American athletes ends up in the front page of the tabloids and being sent home because drunk driving while playing here.) For them it is very difficult to understand you really are not to drive home from bar. You will be caught, you will be going to court, you will be sacked from your work.

    But yeah, at times I do plan to drink myself drunk. Not so often nowadays, maybe once or twice a year or even less. Other than that I usually do drink two or three beers/classes of wine at tops at the time and have even that one drink once or twice a week if that. Those one or two drinks I have because the taste. I like the taste of wine, beer and some drinks. Some foods are much better with the right wine. When I'm drinking to get drunk, it is not about the taste, it is about the feeling. It's not something I like to experience often, but at times it is really fun and at times it may be something I really need.
  11. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I think it's somewhat of an individual thing. But in my opinion if friend can't go out without drinking.........there is probably a problem, as what she's saying is she can't have fun at the same place without being buzzed.

    I avoid drinking for two reasons. 1 my kidneys don't like it when I drink, it tends to throw me into acute renal failure at times (I never know when it's going to do it.) 2. I won't drink a drink that I don't like the taste.......and because I like the taste I just keep drinking it.......and because regardless of my size ect, I can drink most people under the table without batting an eye (I'm not bragging this is not a good thing) I tend to get seriously drunk without meaning to. And because I never toss my cookies no matter how much I drink and there is no hang over the next morning......that is not a deterrent. It didn't take me long to realize I couldn't seem to drink without getting drunk. I personally couldn't find that line, that drink limit. Know what I mean??

    So many years ago, still in my early 20's, I just didn't drink. I saw the potential of becoming an alcoholic quite easily and knew I didn't want that. I can easily go a decade without picking up a drink. And now that I'm older.........I can stop at one or two and be just fine. But still, it's a very very long time frame between drinks.

    husband I made stop not because of the volume of his drinking (that itself wasn't too bad it was only 1 night a week), but when it changed his personality and not for the better.
  12. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    You can be a problem drinker without being an alcoholic. And some people feel that, because they are not an alcoholic, they are not a problem drinker.... but it's more complex, and more simple, than that.
    Essentially, if drinking is causing any sort of problem in your life - from budget to relationships to health - then you are a problem drinker.
  13. SuZir

    SuZir Well-Known Member

    I would add 'repeatedly' or even 'frequently' to that. Accidents do happen, relationship problems do happen, budget problems do happen with or without alcohol. If alcohol is somehow involved with one of these, it doesn't yet make you a problem drinker (in other words, if you end up having troubles with you mortgage that one six-pack of beer you bought month ago really doesn't make you a problem drinker yet.) If it does happen repeatedly and alcohol is involved or even more so in the big role, then yes, alcohol is a problem.
  14. keista

    keista New Member

    in my opinion if these ppl do/say things they regret while drunk, then it's a problem. Theye don't invite you to the parties because they don't want any sober witnesses. That is a proiblem

    Going out just to get drunk was something I did in my early 20's. Not something I'm interested in doing now, except for the very rare occasion. Like when I visit with my friend on vacation and I stay over her house and all our kids are safe asleep - then we hit that bottle hard. But still, no where close to the party days of the early 20's. Growing up, though, I watched my Dad and my friend's parents get together frequently and drink - a lot. It was both cultural and social. in my opinion by today's standards, they were all problem drinkers because they all drove home DRUNK. The term "designated driver" had not been invented yet. Couples did not take turns drinking, they drank together. I recall one time, leaving a weekend-long party I watched my dad's driving improve the closer we got to home - yeah he was sobering up. The perk for us kids was that out parents were too drunk to realize that we were all drunk as well.
  15. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    I'm another one that drinks next to nothing. Never have, never will. I think the last time I had anything to drink was maybe ten years ago when a few of us from work had a girls night out at a comedy club, and then it was two light watered down drinks spread out over several hours after a big dinner. None of us had more than that and at the end of the evening, none of us were impaired in the slightest. To me, that is what "social drinking" is.

    I am both the daughter and the ex-wife of serious alcoholics. One brother drinks too much. The other, if he drinks at all, drinks too much so he now doesn't drink at all and hasn't for decades. Some of my nightmare memories from childhood are of the times when my dad had too much to drink and created a scene at family gatherings, or created a big painful scene at home. He didn't drink all the time but when he did, it was horrible. And my ex, of course was (and still is) the worst kind of alcoholic and now has added drug abuse to the mix. Quite frankly, I'm surprised he's still alive. I could tell you the twenty years of horror stories, but I won't. Suffice it to say that he poisoned the lives of his family and friends and hurt everyone who was ever close to him. Alcohol was more important to him than anything- more important than his marriage, his children, his home, his job, or his self-respect. He drank every day, even in the car unless he was on his way to work, then in the evening his first stop was to buy beer and he would have two or three while he was driving home. He refused to go anywhere that he couldn't drink. If he went to our sons' ball games, he had beer in the car and would go out to the car and drink between innings. if we were down to our last $10, he would spend it on beer.

    And it is because of all these nightmare memories that I am extremely uncomfortable being around people who are drinking. I've never understood the desire some people have to become drunk. Doesn't appeal to me at all. I can't even imagine myself ever drinking to the point where I wouldn't be able to be responsible for my own safety! There is NO ONE in this world that I trust enough to be responsible for me other than ME! And I don't want to be around someone else who drinks to the point that I am forced in to the position of being responsible for this persons safety. Don't make ME have to wrestle your car keys away to keep you from driving so you don't go out and kill your silly self or someone else! I want nothing to do with any of this ... I've already had enough of it to last me a lifetime!

    Now I'm not talking about the kind of evening that Janet described, a rare occasion where they had taken steps to insure that no one was driving and everyone was safe. And I'm not talking about a glass of wine with dinner either, but certainly someone who drinks more than a little every day is a "problem drinker". When drinking becomes a priority, I think you are a "problem drinker". When your drinking affects those around you, when you make yourself their problem, then it's gone beyond any definition of "social drinking". When you put your own or your familys safety, happiness, security or financial position in jeopardy because of your drinking, then you have a big problem. And even if they don't drink every day, I certainly consider these people who go out every weekend with the objective of partying and getting blind running drunk to be "problem drinkers". They don't realize they look like fools and may end up doing things they wouldn't ordinarily do when sober. This is "fun"? How do they get home? And how many of them end up killing or injuring themselves or someone else because they thought they were OK to drive? When people get drunk, the very first thing to be affected is their judgement, especially about their ability to drive!
  16. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Different fields of expertise have different definitions. To a psychiatrist or therapist, it is when the drinking causes problems in your life. To a nutritionist it is when 30% of your daily calories (or weekly calories if you are a binge drinker) come from alcohol. Alcohol has a lot of calories and the drinks are often high in sugar, so it is easier than you think to get 30% of your calories from alcohol. If this is normal for you, then you have a problem.

    in my opinion if it makes you uncomfortable to be around people who are not drinking then you have a problem.
  17. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    you would not believe how I had to plan for Jamie's birthday. I had to go off all my medications for a few days so I could have that night of fun. It was important for us though. I hadnt had anything to drink for years. Not since I went on medications. I am not normally a drinker but I do like tequila and margaritas. I can drink straight tequila shots which was what I was downing with Jamie's friends. The problem was they were slamming Crown Royal and I was just doing tequila. I can do tequila all night and not have a hangover. They were passing out around me like flies...lmao. I just made sure I ate. They werent that smart.

    We all talked about how I was going to have my next drink at the reunion in Cleveland. I forgot to order it because I was having such a good
  18. Californiablonde

    Californiablonde Well-Known Member

    I drink wine once a week to relax. When difficult children are home with me I limit myself to a few glasses. I get tipsy but not full on drunk. When the kids are at their dads I tend to drink a little more wine. Sometimes I do get drunk but I am usually by myself and all I do is sit around and watch TV. I like the way the alcohol makes me feel since most times it's really hard for me to relax when my life is so hectic. I personally don't see anything wrong with it. I only do it on weekends and I'm not out of control or irresponsible. I never drink and drive. On the rare ocassions when my girlfriends and I are out drinking and dancing, we split a cab. I won't even drink one glass of wine and drive. I am really paranoid about that. My mom does not like the fact that I drink but I see absolutely nothing wrong with it. I am a hard working responsible adult, and my rule is I NEVER drink during the week when I have to work the next day. Not even one glass, period. I don't see anything wrong with a little weekend fun, as long as driving and kids are not involved. Now someone who drinks every day is another story. I personally don't see how some people do it. I would not like the feeling of being drunk every day. That's when I think it becomes a problem.
  19. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

  20. Californiablonde

    Californiablonde Well-Known Member

    Well according to the article I am a problem drinker because I drink more than three drinks in one sitting. I don't agree with it. I don't have any negative consequences from my drinking. If I can drink responsibly one day a week and have four glasses of wine, I don't see a problem with it. I don't get hangovers and It doesn't interfere with my kids or my job. Interesting article.