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More than 18% of Americans experience alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence at some time in their lives.

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Social Drinking, Moderate Drinking, And Abuse
by Bill Breitsprecher

Social drinking is a term that refers to drinking patterns that are considered “acceptable” among the people in which they occur. Different groups have different perspectives on when drinking is “normal.” People that drink heavily may have different ideas about what they consider “normal” drinking.

The term “social drinking” is not a good way to look at alcohol use and/or abuse. It is more important to ask, “Does a pattern of drinking cause problems for ourselves, others, or society?”

Then we realize that social drinking isn’t about our ideas on how alcohol use by one person compares to another. It’s not about finding the “right” amount. It’s about harm to ourselves, people we love, or others around us.

Moderate drinking may be defined as alcohol use that does not cause problems, either for the drinker, friends and family, or society. There’s no hard-and-fast rule - we can’t really say how many drinks are “social”, “moderate” or “abuse.”

But consider this - does anyone really ask if they are abusing alcohol if they do not see it causing problems for themselves, someone they love, their job or schoolwork, or others?

When a person is in trouble with the law directly or indirectly because of alcohol use, isn’t that always a problem? Don’t we have to call this “alcohol abuse”? Are there some questions that we have already answered when we think of asking them?

Alcohol is a depressant - it is also a poison. The typical reaction, a normal reaction to one drink, is a feeling of relaxation - a feeling of contentment. There is no need, no desire, no craving for another.

Have you ever watched people at a party hold a drink and stir it and stir it? They know they have had enough. They do not want another sip. They do not need one. If you offer them another drink, they probably politely say “no, I have had enough.” That person can handle their alcohol.

Some people have many drinks, telling themselves that they can handle their liquor. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume more than 4 drinks and women consume more than 3 drinks in about 2 hours.

This level of intoxication is correlated with health problems, impairs drivers, and likely changes a person’s judgment. It probably impacts friends, family, relationships, and job-performance. It can create problems. Do those that binge drink see these problems?

Sadly, often they do not. Some do and promise themselves that they will drink less, change their drink of choice, drink only on certain days, or switch to beer. Some solemnly swear they will never drink again.

Will any of this work? There’s only one way to tell - try it. Alcohol abuse isn’t really about what or how much or how often we drink. It’s about problems that are directly or indirectly a result of our drinking.

I pray that those who suffer from repeated alcohol abuse will find the clarity of mind to see the problems in their lives and the outcomes of choosing to pick up a drink - that first drink.

Until then, I pray for people that are being harmed by alcohol abuse.

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