What is a Social Alcoholic?

What is a Social Alcoholic?


Traditionally, the belief widely held around the concept of alcoholism is: someone is either addicted or they’re not; there’s no in-between. However, more and more counselors and other such professionals are finding that a large number of people who come to them for help are kind of alcoholic, or social alcoholic. These folks seek help for some other problem or issue that has developed in their life: anger issues, aggression, loss of job, declining health – without a thought about their drinking patterns. After some digging, the professional finds that these presenting problems are in fact a result of the person’s use of alcohol.

The Alcoholic

Alcoholism, officially called alcohol dependence, is where the alcoholic must drink pretty much on a continuous basis in order to maintain a level of alcohol in their body. If they stop then all the alcohol gets metabolized and the alcoholic goes into withdrawal. Alcohol withdrawal syndrome causes the alcoholic to experience severe and even life-threatening symptoms.

Alcoholism as a Spectrum

The medical and therapeutic community is finding it to be more accurate and helpful to view alcoholism as a spectrum disorder rather than a black-and-white condition. There are many people who can be diagnosed with some sort of drinking problem but who do not meet the strict criteria required to be diagnosed as alcoholic. This is where the social alcoholic label applies.

The Social Alcoholic

The social alcoholic, also called “almost alcoholic,” applies to a large number of people. People who are social alcoholics are not typical alcoholics; instead, they are people whose drinking habits can range from barely qualifying as almost alcoholics to those whose drinking borders actual alcohol abuse.

The almost alcoholic will have started out in normal drinking patterns but has then moved into the social alcoholic zone of the spectrum. Here are some signs of an almost alcoholic:


  • drinks to relieve stress
  • may drink alone
  • looks forward to drinking
  • drinking may be related to health problems
  • drinks to relieve boredom and/or loneliness
  • sometimes takes risks like driving after drinking
  • drinks to get a “buzz”
  • work performance is declining
  • isn’t comfortable in social settings without drinking
  • finds that drinking helps to overcome shyness


 Examples of the Social Alcoholic


Someone who is under the normal pressures of life: balancing family, work, relationships, finances and starts experiencing difficulty sleeping and chronic fatigue goes to the doctor for a prescription for a sleeping pill or antidepressant. Upon further examination, the doctor finds out that the patient drinks 3 glasses of wine nightly to unwind. At first, this helped the patient sleep better but is now no longer working. At some point, this patient had crossed over the line that separates normal social drinking from almost alcoholic drinking.

Combined with the somewhat excessive drinking each evening, the patient reports having sleep disturbances, fatigue, depression and outbursts of anger. These are historically the same problems that true alcoholics often report. However, the patient does not have enough of the symptoms to meet the accepted criteria for any of the alcohol-related diagnoses, such as alcoholism. It wasn’t that one drink was never enough, or that the patient had to drink enough to maintain a certain level of alcohol to avoid withdrawals, but the patient is nonetheless experiencing alcohol related problems.


The “typical” college student who binge drinks with friends on the weekends can also possibly be a social alcoholic. This drinking pattern of binge drinking may seem normal to the student because a lot of other students are doing it too: at weekend parties, drinking games, tailgating, and so on. But when the drinking starts affecting school performance, mood, and leads to repercussions such as academic or social probation if say, one night things get out of hand and the student gets in a physical fight with someone else. The student may be told to go to anger management classes. Again, the problem on the surface is aggression but the underlying problem is a pattern of drinking that has come to be known as social alcoholism.









If you need help with your addiction please call us at 800-507-7389.

Relapse Excuses

Relapse Excuses

There is no good excuse for a relapse. However, there are several emotional triggers that are commonly used excuses people will use in order to justify a relapse.

Relapse Excuse #1. Resentment

Many of us have probably heard this: Resentments will take you back out. Holding a resentment is probably the most common relapse excuse. Resentments are usually in the form of:

Perceiving that others are trying to control their life

Expectations not being met

Perceiving that others are acting as if they are superior

Perceiving others to be hypocrites, taking others’ inventory

Superiors who abuse their power

Being hurt but others saying or doing something that negatively impacts the their self-esteem

When other people lie

Feeling slighted

Perceiving others to act unfair towards them and/or others

Relapse Excuse #2. Anger

“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die” When feeling angry towards someone else, the recovering addict/alcoholic often thinks that they will punish these other people by relapsing; of course the only person they are going to hurt is themselves.

Relapse Excuse #3. Boredom

After getting clean and sober, you might find that you have a lot of free time on your hands. Without hobbies or pursuing other healthy interests, you may become bored. This is another common relapse excuse: boredom. When we become bored, we may begin romanticizing our previous lifestyle, remembering the “good ol’ times” and conveniently forget about all the horrible stuff. This is a dangerous trend because, in the newly sober person’s mind, addiction wasn’t so bad after all. That mindset combined with agony of boredom is enough to convince most that relapse is the way to remedy their situation.

Relapse Excuse #4. Loneliness

This is kind of like the boredom excuse. When we stop drinking and drugging, we have to change people, places, and things. We may begin to miss our drinking and using buddies and, if we are not proactive in making new sober friends and getting sober supports in our life, then being lonely is the perfect relapse excuse.

Relapse Excuse #5. Disappointment in sobriety

As recovering addicts and alcoholics, we are used to instant gratification. That said, a life beyond our wildest in dreams in recovery takes time. Often times, we have to rebuild our lives from scratch. For some in recovery, this is frustrating and upsetting. They expect results and immediately! When this doesn’t happen, they will use that as an excuse to relapse

Relapse Excuse #6. Feeling depressed

Many addicts and alcoholics also have a co-occurring, or dual diagnosis mental disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder. In fact, that is why many of us sought out drugs: to numb those bad feelings. So, in sobriety, when those feelings come back, we retreat to the way we always dealt with them – by using drugs.

For those who do not have an actual mental health diagnosis, depression is still a factor, as it is for non addicts and alcoholics. Depression is a fact of life. But again, for recovering addicts and alcoholics, the temptation to escape these negative feelings may become too great to deal with and lead them to relapse. It is important to learn coping mechanisms that don’t involve drug use in order to achieve emotional stability in recovery.

Relapse Excuse #7. Feeling happy

Conversely, many people who have experienced a relapse say that it is when things are going really well that they slip up. Perhaps it is a way of rewarding themselves for doing so well. For others, it is a way to increase the already good feeling they have naturally. As addicts and alcoholics, we seek to increase the pleasure-causing chemicals in our brains while in active addiction. Once we are sober, it might be that this “taste” of euphoria from normal everyday good things, that is enough of a high for others, is just what it takes to leave us craving something more intense therefore causing some to seek it in drugs and resulting in a relapse.

Relapse Excuse #8. “Forgetting”

So many times, I have heard people who relapse say that they weren’t sure anymore whether they were an alcoholic or addict. So, they decide to go back out and “test the waters.” People will use the relapse excuse that they decided they weren’t really an addict and/or alcoholic in order to start drinking and drugging again.






If you need help with your addiction please call us at 800-507-7389.

Q&A: I’m feeling depressed. What should I do?


Depression is draining; it drains your energy, hope and drive and this can make it difficult to do what you need to do to feel better. While overcoming feeling depressed isn’t quick or easy it can be done. The key to doing something about feeling depressed is to start small and build from there. Feeling better always takes time but you can begin to feel better if you make positive choices for yourself each day.

If you are feeling depressed and wondering what you should do remember this: Recovering from depressing requires action but taking action when you are in your depression is hard but the things that help the most are the most difficult to do. But if you can do those things you will begin to feel better and you will slowly stop feeling depressed.

Reach out to others:

Isolation and loneliness are one of the things that can make you feel more depressed. That is why one of the things you can do if you are feeling depressed is to reach out to other people. For instance you can turn to trusted friends and family members by sharing what you are going through. Also try to keep up with social activities even if you really don’t feel like it. Often when you are feeling depressed it feels more comfortable to retreat into your home but being around other people will make you feel less depressed. Another thing you can do if you are feeling depressed is join a support group for depression. Being with other people who are dealing with depression can go a long way in helping with your depression.

Challenge your negative thoughts:

Depression can put a negative rain cloud over everything including your thoughts. The trick if you are feeling depressed is to replace the negative thoughts with balanced thoughts. Here are some ways to challenge negative thoughts:

  • It’s ok to be less than perfect: Many depressed people are perfectionists and they hold themselves to impossible and unattainable standards then beat themselves up when they don’t meet those standards. Challenge this. It is ok to not be perfect.
  • Talk to positive people: Pay attention to people who are always managing to look on the bright side of things and how they deal with challenges even minor ones like being stuck in traffic. Then look at how you would react in the same situation. Change your reaction next time. Try to adapt their positivity.

Take care of yourself:

If you are feeling depressed one of the best ways to overcome it is to take care of yourself. This means learning to manage stress, setting limits for yourself, having healthy habits and adding activities to your day.

  • Try to get enough sleep- Depression usually comes along with sleep problems. Get on a better sleep schedule.
  • Get some sunlight- Lack of sunlight can make depression worse so getting enough sunlight is really important. Drink your coffee in the sunlight or enjoy a meal outside. Maybe go to the park and just people watch.
  • Practice relaxation techniques-A daily practice such as prayer or meditation or even yoga can really help to relieve depression. These techniques can reduce stress and enhance feelings of happiness and well-being.
  • Get a pet-Nothing can replace human connection but pets can bring happiness and love into your life and help with feelings of isolation. Caring for a pet can also get you to think outside of yourself and give you a feeling of being needed. All of this is a great way to combat feelings of depression.

If you are feeling depressed of course it is always best to see a doctor about your symptoms and they can either refer you to some kind of counseling or recommend medication if they find it is necessary but part of combating depression is always going to be lifestyle changes. Get back to doing what you love to do!

Source: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_tips.htm


If you need help with your addiction please call us at 800-507-7389.