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
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
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
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
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