Social alcoholism is a serious issue that is all too common in our country, yet it is poorly misunderstood and often unrecognized. Unlike the stereotypical portrayal of alcoholics, social alcoholics tend to “blend in” among the general population. However, the consequences of social alcoholism are just as dire as the costs endured by alcoholics who may drink both in and out of social situations.
Social alcoholics come from a variety of backgrounds and primarily consume alcohol in social settings. However, because social alcoholics typically drink in situations where everyone else is drinking as well, their inability to stop drinking is not always apparent to others. For example, social drinking is widespread at many college campuses across the nation. Students quickly become accustomed to the “party life” and they may normalize heavy drinking. This is a substantial concern because college campuses have an extraordinarily high number of individuals who engage in binge drinking, which can trigger a host of personal, social and emotional issues.
During a binge drinking episode, the individual consumes an overabundance of alcohol in a short period of time until he or she is highly intoxicated. When the drinking is over, the individual may experience withdrawal symptoms ranging from mild to severe. People who binge drink may abstain from using alcohol for a period of time, but eventually resort to yet another heavy drinking episode. This is a detrimental cycle that can severely impact day-to-day functioning.
When social alcoholics consume alcohol in large quantities, they are increasing their level of tolerance each time they drink. Not only is this severely destructive to the body, this type of alcoholic intake can destroy relationships, interfere with one’s employment or lead to a slew of legal troubles. Over time, the internal organs may begin to deteriorate and serious health consequences may surface. Worse yet, the situation can erupt into a problem so immense that it can lead to death from an accident or from a dangerous blood alcohol level content. Typically, this may happen because the social alcoholic does not fully understand his or her limits. Mixed with an increased tolerance and an addiction to the alcohol itself, it is clear to see how the social alcoholic can brutally damage their life.
Of all the consequences that can transpire, the risk of getting a DUI is significantly higher when a social alcoholic gets behind the wheel. Social alcoholics tend to put themselves in frequent social situations where they are able to freely drink and thus run the chance of driving themselves. These individuals may drink and drive on a regular basis and wrongfully assume that they are a “safe drunk driver”. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as safe drinking and driving, and believing in such a fallacy may only lead to an inevitable DUI arrest.
For many social alcoholics, reality may not set in until something major such as a DUI occurs. However, before the social alcoholic realizes that the “party is over”, it is important for family and friends to be cognizant and attentive to any warning signs. Anytime drinking alcohol interferes with one’s major life domains, such as career or relationships, the drinking is usually a legit problem. Timely intervention is critical before the social alcoholic further damages their health and well-being.