Unmasking the Drinking Culture: Alcohol Abuse vs. Social Drinking

Genesis House Questions Where We Draw the Line

LAKE WORTH, Fla., Aug. 29, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Drinking to excess is well-tolerated and even encouraged in American culture. Alcohol is used to celebrate, soothe disappointments, relax, and enhance social gatherings. Imbibing fine wines and craft cocktails is symbolic of enjoying the finer things in life.

If you can limit your alcohol consumption, having adult beverages now and then is not a problem. However, the widely accepted practice of having “one too many” blurs the lines between potentially dangerous alcohol abuse and responsible social drinking.

Genesis House believes clearer definitions of the levels of alcohol use can help people recognize problematic behaviors in themselves and their loved ones. Recognizing the warning signs of an alcohol use disorder could lead to early interventions and prevent individuals and their loved ones from experiencing years of physical and mental distress.

Understanding the difference between alcohol abuse, alcohol use disorder, and social drinking is integral to understanding personal drinking habits.

Alcohol abuse does not always lead to alcohol use disorder, but it is one of the first steps toward addiction. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA) defines alcohol abuse as continuing to drink despite experiencing consequences from your alcohol use. These consequences may be related to your health, personal life, career or academic status, or legal problems.

People who are dependent on alcohol develop alcohol tolerance — they need larger and more frequent amounts of alcohol to reach their desired effects. Being physically dependent on alcohol also means a person would experience withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, shaking, and flu-like symptoms, if they stopped drinking cold turkey.

It’s estimated that 90% of those who abuse alcohol are not dependent on the substance. They have not developed tolerance and would not experience withdrawal symptoms if they stopped drinking.

Experiencing both dependence and tolerance is what defines alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a serious, life-threatening disease. The NIAA estimates 15 million Americans have alcohol use disorder. In addition, AUD is responsible for over 95,500 deaths each year in the U.S. alone.

The NIAA provides the following guidelines to help individuals discern whether their drinking habits are in the healthy range:

  • Light Drinking: 1.2 drinks or less per day
  • Moderate Drinking: 2.2 drinks or less per day
  • Heavy Drinking: 3.5 drinks or more per day
  • Abusive Drinking: 5.4 drinks or more per day
  • Binge Drinking: 5 or more drinks in two hours or more for men and 4 or more drinks for women

A person’s drinking habits may fluctuate from year to year or even season to season. For example, alcohol sales spike sharply between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. However, there are other warning signs of a potential drinking problem Genesis House wants people to be aware of.

There are several red flags associated with alcohol use disorder that indicate you may need to seek treatment for alcohol use disorder:

  • Drinking more and drinking for longer periods than originally intended
  • Having strong alcohol cravings
  • Drinking in risky situations, such as while driving
  • Wanting to quit or reduce drinking but being unable to do it
  • Noticing that alcohol use is interfering with normal daily function
  • Choosing alcohol over important activities

Even people who consider themselves moderate to heavy drinkers may need treatment for alcohol use disorder if they are also experiencing any of these symptoms. Comprehensive treatment programs may include detoxification services, therapy, skill-building, relapse prevention, and treatment for co-occurring mental health conditions if appropriate.

As the medical community’s understanding of addiction disorders continues to expand, the meaning of terms like “alcohol abuse,” “addiction,” and “social drinking” change with time. The language used in the past was often chosen to purposefully stigmatize those who were struggling with alcohol and substance use disorders. Genesis House wants to help end the stigmas associated with mental health concerns of all kinds, including addictions.

Are your drinking habits causing problems in your life? If alcohol consumption is affecting your health, relationships, financial security, or your hope for the future, the terminology is of little importance. Committing to the treatment that can help you live a healthy, fulfilling life is the goal.


Genesis House is a residential treatment center located in Lake Worth, Florida. It was founded by James (Tony) Dodge, who created Genesis House when he saw the need for recovery clients to have a supportive residence after completing outpatient treatment. Today, Genesis House offers a full range of addiction and dual-diagnosis treatment programs.

Call: 1.855.936.4435


Website: www.genesishouse.net


Darya Neyburger

(561) 556-1934


SOURCE Genesis House Addiction Treatment Inc.