Sobriety, Social Drinking, and Recovery

Sobriety, Social Drinking, and Recovery


Sobriety and social drinking do not go well together, pretty much any way you slice it.  The definition of alcoholism pretty much excludes the idea of anyone in recovery somehow adapting to social drinking and being able to do it successfully.  The whole disorder of alcoholism simply states that we can’t drink socially….we lose control.  End of story.

But the idea of moderation holds promise for many recovering alcoholics, and many of them have pursued the idea right into a nasty relapse.  The old memory that always tricks us is into denial is that all of us, even the worst of alcoholics, have memories of when they did not drink to excess and were able to enjoy themselves.  This is known as “the good old days” and it is a fantasy that we can never return to.  The reason that alcoholics tend to stay in denial for years and years is because they are clinging to that memory of the one time when they were able to control their drinking and still enjoy it.  But alcoholism is a progressive disease and it becomes impossible to control it and still enjoy ourselves over long periods of time.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Tavallai

If the alcoholic really gets honest with themselves, they will realize that they are just romanticizing the idea of social drinking, and in fact that was never their objective when they set out to drink. In fact, we drank alcohol because we liked the effect that it produced, and because it did something for us.  We were not just casually enjoying alcohol as a social lubricant, instead we were using it with a specific aim to medicate ourselves.  We used alcohol because we liked what it did for us….not because we actually enjoyed drinking with others in a social setting. There is a real difference between those two justifications and we need to look at them both honestly in order to see what our disease is really doing to us.  We drank to get drunk, not to enjoy good company….regardless of what we told ourselves.

If alcoholics could moderate their drinking they would have done so a long time ago, and they would not be alcoholic.  The fact that we cannot drink socially is what defines our alcoholism.  If you are finding yourself wishing that you could drink socially again, do some thinking about what you really drank for in the first place.  It was not to socialize.  Get honest with yourself and you can prevent relapse.