Are You a Social Drinker, Alcohol Abuser or an Alcoholic?

The three main categories that alcohol users fall into are the following—social drinker, alcohol abuser, and alcoholic. Most people who imbibe in the spirits won’t have any problems or issues with their consumption. This means they can drink and they can stop at any time.

However, for people who do have issues handling alcohol consumption from the start, indulging in it often results in full-blown addiction, as if they’re falling into a slippery slope. On the other hand, some people are simply more resistant to alcoholism or alcohol dependence than others.

Three Types of Drinkers

The great irony regarding the designations of social drinker, alcohol abuser, and alcoholic is that those who belong to the latter two categories tend to frame themselves as social drinkers to downplay their excessive consumption.

Which describes you the best? Are you a social drinker, alcohol abuser, or alcoholic? Let this table discuss briefly the three different types of alcohol drinker or user.

Categories of Alcohol Drinker Description How to Deal with This Condition
Abstinent Someone who practices abstinence tends to refuse drinking alcoholic beverages even when faced with special occasions. You don’t need to do anything. This is actually the perfect method of avoiding the development of alcohol use dependence if it’s a viable option.
Social Drinker A social drinker only occasionally drinks alcohol during special occasions. You should watch out for the amount of drinks you take so that you won’t slip up and end up gravitating toward becoming an alcohol abuser or even an alcoholic.
Alcohol Abuser An alcohol abuser is someone who drinks alcohol on a regular basis, usually from a weekly basis. Outpatient rehab like Alcoholics Anonymous might be called for to help your developing dependence to alcohol.
Alcoholic An alcoholic is someone who is alcohol dependent and drinks on a daily basis, even to the point of drinking during the morning or hours when you usually don’t drink.

You might need to outright go to inpatient rehab if you’ve developed full-blown alcoholism.

Detox and withdrawal symptom mitigation might also be required if it’s particularly bad.

What’s the Deal with Social Drinkers, Alcohol Abusers, or Alcoholics?

This guide will show the three main alcohol consumer categories. The fourth category is abstinence or people who don’t drink alcohol at all.

However, this article will mainly zero-in on the three types of alcohol drinkers and what to search for when you suspect you might have already jumped into the deep end of addiction. In particular, it’ll discuss how the more you drink the more tolerant you are of alcohol.

U.S. Statistics on Alcoholism

In the United States, 15.1 million people over 18 years of age have alcohol use disorder, which is more popularly known as “alcoholism”. The number covers over six percent of American adults.

An actual alcoholic person drinks heavily and frequently, often to the point of being a heavy drinker or even a binge drinker. They also suffer from withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking alcohol or lose access to alcohol.

At any rate, what type of drinker are you?

The Social Drinker

A social drinker is someone who drinks alcohol occasionally, particularly during parties and get-togethers in order to fit in with their social circle, coworkers, or family. They don’t turn down drinks the same way someone who abstains from alcohol would.

  • No Negative Consequences: If you’re a social drinker, you’ll not have any negative consequences or problems to face. Drink moderately and you’re good to go. You still need to watch out for the slippery slope of going from social drinker to alcohol abuser though.

  • No Complaints About True Social Drinking: Your family or friends will most likely not complain about your alcohol consumption if you really are just a social drinker who drinks alcohol from time to time out of politeness or the push to fit in socially.

  • What Defines a Social Drinker? A social drinker, in contrast to an alcohol abuser or alcoholic, doesn’t display alcohol dependence and doesn’t excessively drink alcohol. He avoids binge drinking or heavy drinking.

  • A Social Drinker Can Function without Alcohol: He might drink enough to get tipsy or drunk at a party, but the key trait here is that he can function without alcohol. Alcoholics can’t do that, which is why they drink often.

  • They Remain in Control: A social drinker might go out for a few drinks among friends and coworkers as well as to entertain guests during a business meeting. They can handle or control their alcohol intake without going out of control with it.

  • When Can Social Drinking Become a Problem? While social drinking is a low-risk activity despite it being common, the risk is still there for you to end up binge drinking or drinking in excessive amounts in one sitting. That’s when you could develop a taste and tolerance for alcohol.

  • It Starts with Tolerance Development: Once your body is used to alcohol due to how much you’ve drunk such drinks, then you could develop tolerance to drinking that can lead you to chase after the high or feeling of intoxication that requires more bottles or glasses of alcohol than before.

  • Coping Mechanism: Another dangerous thing about social drinking is that you could get pushed to drink whole cases of alcohol if you’re drinking in order to cope with depression, anxiety, loneliness, or stress. Many go to bars in order to unwind and drown out their sorrows with beer or wine.

Social drinkers aren’t prone to becoming drunk due to their drink avoidance outside of social events. Or they could be lightweights when drinking only a few glasses of alcohol, so they tend to avoid it as much as possible.

If you’re not any of those things, you might instead be an alcohol abuser or a full-blown alcohol addict, also known as an alcoholic.

Essentially, a social drinker is someone who does the following.

  • A social drinker doesn’t get in legal trouble due to alcohol consumption.

  • A social drinker doesn’t spend every waking hour thinking about alcohol.

  • A social drinker won’t say or do anything when drinking they’d regret later.

  • A social drinker doesn’t feel the need to get intoxicated to have a great time.

  • A social drinker drinks occasionally yet limits their consumption to one to two drinks.

In essence, a non-alcoholic social drinker doesn’t have alcohol occupying their thoughts. They don’t need to set limits because they themselves know when they have had enough. They’re not prone to being violent, fighting, or extreme mood swings.

The Alcohol Abuser

In contrast, an alcohol abuser can be considered someone who’s on the verge of developing alcoholism or alcohol use dependence. The cycle towards this level of alcohol consumption usually starts when they develop tolerance for alcohol.

  • Going to the Next Level: They’ve started to take their consumption of alcohol to the next level—usually a level or two too far—in order to experience the drunkenness or intoxication they used to get with fewer beers or wine.

  • Increased Frequency of Drinking: When you’re an alcohol abuser, what used to be social drinking has become more and more frequent, to the point of heavy drinking and extreme consumption. Your binge drinking happens more often too.

  • Tolerance Isn’t a Good Thing: If you stopped getting intoxicated by one beer you’d think that’s your signal to stop since you’re not getting the same effects from alcohol like before. However, this actually encourages you to drink more.

  • An Impulse to Chase That High: Like with drug addiction, developing alcoholics or alcohol abusers start getting worse by chasing that high or that feeling of intoxication as before after drinking enough wine to develop tolerance and whatnot.

  • The Start of Control Slippage: Someone who abuses alcohol might end up with a drinking habit that’s physically harmful to themselves and those around them. They can start wasting money on drinking and lose power over their decisions once they’ve become addicted to booze.

  • Risky Behavior Such as DUI: You might even end up displaying risky behavior like driving under the influence. An alcohol abuser is likely to at least be arrested once for DUI. You could also face various legal problems as the impulse to drown yourself in alcohol becomes stronger and stronger.

  • Family and Work Obligations Are Abandoned: As you keep on abusing alcohol, you’re likely to put aside all your family and work obligations in favor of chasing the dragon that is intoxication in order to defeat your growing tolerance for the substance.

  • Needing Alcohol to Function in Everyday Life: Drinking might even start occupying your thoughts. As an alcohol abuser, you might even start to feel like you need to drink more often or else you’ll feel terrible for the rest of the day or the week.

  • Your Family Might Notice Your Change: Your family might begin noticing changes in your attitude and daily behavior as you become more and more concerned with getting drunk and forgetting the rest of the sober world around you. Your family knows you best because they’ve been around all your life.

It’s around this point that you might undergo what’s known as an intervention by friends and loved ones. Once they try setting limits to your drinking then you know you’re no longer a social drinker but instead an alcohol abuser.

Be careful because you could end up on the verge of developing withdrawal symptoms and losing complete control over your life when you transform into a full-fledged alcoholic.

The Alcoholic

Full-blown alcoholism or alcohol use dependence is a chronic condition. It’s characterized by being addicted to alcohol. This is evidenced by you consciously trying to stop drinking but suffering the consequences of such in the form of withdrawal symptoms.

Actually, experiencing withdrawal symptoms is the collective x-factor that separates the alcoholic from the social drinker or even alcohol abuser. Withdrawal symptoms serve like hunger when you haven’t eaten.

It’s your body’s way of compelling you to get more alcohol, thus making it even harder to quit!

Regardless, here are the two subtypes of alcoholics. They’re defined by the rate of alcohol consumption and can serve as indicators that you might already be an alcoholic.

  • Heavy Drinker: A heavy drinker is someone who drinks regularly on a weekly or even daily basis. It may or may not involve binge drinking but it certainly involves a lengthier amount of time for alcohol exposure.

  • Binge Drinker: You’re a binge drinker if you consume 8 units (glasses or bottles) of alcohol if you’re male and 6 units if you’re female. It involves consuming a huge amount of alcohol in a short period of time.

    When you’ve turned into an alcoholic, the habit of drinking alcohol is practically ingrained in your nervous system, such that it will take a huge amount of effort to overwrite that bad habit so you could return to sobriety.

    To wit, here are the things that characterize your average alcoholic.

  • You Can’t Set Limits: An alcoholic is known not only by his withdrawal symptoms but also by his seemingly poor impulse control, wherein they’re unable to set limits or control their alcohol intake. They can’t help themselves.

  • How Alcoholics are Made: Many alcoholics started out as social drinkers. They then developed tolerance and turned into alcohol abusers to keep up with their increased tolerance against intoxication by drinking more.

  • From Chasing the High to Alcohol Dependence: The more tolerant you are of alcohol the more of it you’ll need to drink in order to get the original effects it has. This keeps on escalating from abuser to alcoholic. Once you suffer from alcoholism, you’ll have a hard time functioning without alcohol.

  • Losing Control and Withdrawal Symptoms: Once you have greater tolerance against intoxication, alcohol will begin taking control of your life in the form of withdrawal symptoms every time you’re not drinking and liver problems down the line. Your impulse will compel you more.

  • Life in Jeopardy: Due to an alcoholic’s poorer impulse control now that the addiction sickness has become full-blown alcohol dependency, every aspect of his life is jeopardized, from his job to his family to his social circle to his health. He’s like a zombie who’s a slave to his desires.

  • You Can’t Help Yourself: If you’re an alcoholic, the scary part of the condition is that you can’t stop drinking even if you want to. Despite the negative consequences to your fortune and reputation, those awful withdrawal symptoms and your compromised nervous system.

  • Changed Chemicals in Your Brain: The problem with being an alcoholic is that your drinking bad habit or vice has become hardwired into your psyche. It has become as second nature as breathing or eating when you’re hungry. Alcohol is now the center of your universe.

  • Denial is Also Common: Because it’s easier to deny than to get actual help, you might end up denying you have a problem and rationalize that many of your friends (also alcoholics) drink as much as you and they’re perfectly fine. You might delude yourself into thinking you’re still a social drinker.

  • Self-Awareness is the First Step: Before you can get help or go to rehab like the one found in Miracles Asia, you need to first address that you have the disease in the first place. Don’t let helplessness scare you into ignoring your obvious addiction and alcoholism issues.

The symptoms of alcoholism will vary on a case-by-case basis. However, they’re mentally, physically, and emotionally draining on any alcoholic. The feeling of helplessness and lack of agency can push you to a corner and go for the easy way out—denial.

Don’t wait for dire circumstances like liver failure to push you towards rehab and addiction recovery. Start early, while you’re still at the alcohol abuser stage.

Go to AA or a secluded rehab center like Miracles Asia to give yourself a stronger chance of achieving sobriety and normalcy once more.

Alcohol Tolerance and How It Leads to Excessive Consumption

The alcohol tolerance that builds inside you over time the more you drink provokes or induces you to drink more alcohol. This is because the more tolerant you are of drinks the more drinks you need to achieve the level of intoxication you used to get at first.

If your dependence on alcohol reaches its zenith, not drinking alcohol will result in withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, agitation, vomiting, nausea, and “the shakes”. In severe cases you’ll even experience hallucinations.

The Bottom Line

Some alcohol users become social drinkers because drinking turns them into the life of the party. Others abstain from drinking in order to become one of the responsible ones, usually the driver when all is said and done.

In regards to alcohol usage, it’s important to be honest with what category of alcohol user you are and take the necessary steps to cut back on your consumption before you slip-up and slide down the slippery slope of alcoholism.

The effects of any substance type can be overpowering to your relationships with family and friends as well as your health. What you need to develop as an alcoholic is alcohol independence care of rehab.

Get Help Now! Miracles Asia Rehab Will Help Treat Your Addiction!

Miracles Asia has assisted thousands of alcoholics and alcohol abusers to break free from their dependence to alcohol.

All clients undergo a comprehensive assessment, not just of the presenting issue, but of all possible underlying issues or dual diagnosis. This approach vastly increases the chance of sustained recovery and high quality of life Contact us today to find out more.