Social drinkers drink alcohol responsibly, for the most part — meaning they don’t drink to get drunk and binge. Their drinking habits as a whole are socially acceptable. But yes, even this kind of drinking can cause problems. Alcohol consumption at any level, even social, can cause strokes, heart disease and liver disease, the risk of certain cancers, not to mention impairment while driving to or from a party or social setting.
Professor Nigel Heaton of King’s College Hospital, London says, “Some people think it’s natural to have a bottle of wine a night. It seems respectable because you’re drinking with food and it’s not associated with any drunken behavior or even feeling drunk. But if it happens regularly, you may have problems later on.” (1)
A social drinker’s biggest risk is shifting to heavier drinking. With that relaxed, uninhibited feeling while out with friends, their bodies may get used to regular social drinking. One day they may not get that same, ideal buzz with one or two drinks anymore, and after a while, they’ll require more and more alcohol to achieve the desired results.
According to a poll created by YouGov, more than 55% of those questioned were under the assumption that alcohol only damages your health if you regularly get drunk or binge drink. The 2010 survey of 2,000 adults also found that 83% believed that regularly drinking more than the recommended daily limits doesn’t put long-term health at risk. (1) Of course, once someone has progressed to heavy drinking, the health risks quickly rack up.
Learn the limits
Guidelines have been established for those of you who want to keep a close eye on your drinking habits. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, moderate drinking is no more than one drink a day for most women, and no more than two drinks a day for most men. A standard drink is generally considered to be 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits. (2)
However, keep in mind that there are health risks to alcohol consumption at any level. Be aware, and stay healthy!