two men sit in a bar during the day

The sliding scale of social drinking: what is social drinking?

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In the coming period we will be talking about social drinking in three articles. What is social drinking? When does it become a problem? How can you quit? And how to stop social drinking, but stay social.

Alcohol is so integrated in our society that it can no longer be ignored. On Holidays, a night out and sometimes even on the vrimibo; it has become part of the culture. To illustrate this even further: in 2018 no less than 80% of the adult Dutch population indicated that they had drunk alcohol in the past year (Trimbos Institute, 2018). 

“That doesn't make it a problem,” many people will think. But it becomes more difficult when research shows that 1 in 12 Dutch people over 18 are categorized as an excessive drinker. That is to say that men are more than 21 and women over 14 glasses per week drunk.

Alcohol is ubiquitous, seen as a social lubricant and sometimes a treat. That's why it's important to keep in mind that social drinking can easily turn into a problem if you don't handle it carefully.


What is a social drinker?

A social drinker or social drinker generally drinks in social situations and rarely so much as to be a problem. They stick to a limit, be it in a certain number of drinks or in a certain amount that they want to spend on them.

Too often those evenings escalate and end in a hangover. For example, because people drink more than was actually planned. Yet this is not seen as a problem. After all, it concerns a single social occasion. But add up all those times and you see that it is indeed problematic if these people still see themselves as social drinkers.

eight empty beer bottles on a table

When does social drinking become a problem?

The line between having a drink and drinking excessively is easily crossed, but when is there really a problem. In general, this is when the focus of 'having a nice drink' is no longer on the fun, but on the drink. 

Even if you find yourself not functioning socially without a drink or two, this is a clear warning sign. Drinking alcohol should never be a “must” or a condition for socializing. If you drink to loosen up, alarm bells should go off, because you are essentially developing a dependence on alcohol.

What else you notice that social drinking is becoming a problem and how you can stop this will follow next week in the second part of the trilogy on social drinking.