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Why Do People Drink in Social Situations?

Updated on December 6, 2019
Joan King profile image

Joan is a freelance writer and a graduate in Political Science, Social Sciences and Adult Education. She loves gardening, animals and nature

Why people drink in social situations
Why people drink in social situations | Source

Why We Drink

Eat, drink, and be merry is a social mantra that has been around for centuries. Like dining out, drinking at social functions is the accepted norm in many societies. It is not a baseball, football or hockey game if there isn't any access to a drink. I bet attendance at these sports would be significantly diminished if drinks weren't served.

Then there are those social situations that accompany holiday celebrations. We have heard stories about the 'drunk uncle' at Thanksgiving family dinners. Even some religious holidays are not exempt. Drinking is so prevalent over the holidays that special measures have to be employed to ensure that drinkers get home safely.

But why do we do it? This article will explore some of the reasons people drink in social situations. A social drink can be any drink, but for the purpose of this article, the drink will refer to an alcoholic beverage, since that is probably the most popular form of social drinking.

Having a ball

You drink at a social function because it is simply your idea of having a good time. Many people associate a good time with having a few drinks with friends, acquaintances and even family members. It is not unusual to see people at a party where there is dancing and other entertainment, and all they seem to want to do is drink. There is little or no urge to get on the dance floor or at the game table when there is a drink in hand. This could make it a very boring night for accompanying friends and partners whose ideas of a good time may be different.

Lighten up and loosen up

Social drinking can make it easy for some people to mingle and open up to others. One might enter a party totally aloof and after two drinks, they feel comfortable (or loose) enough to interact with other party goers. Of course, too much drinking can also lead to one feeling too comfortable to the point that all discretion may be lost. We probably all have stories about the office Christmas party where something went terribly wrong because someone loosened up a bit too much.

Drowning in your sorrows

Drinking in a social situation allows the person to drown their sorrows while still maintaining contact with others. Instead of drinking to be social, or, for the fun of it, one may simply be drinking to relieve stress and anxiety or to forget their problems. When one is battling depression or consumed with worry, a drink may serve to create a sense of relaxation and a feeling that all their worries are over, for the moment, at least.

Social Drinking or Alcoholism

There is some confusion identifying the differences between someone who drinks socially, which is the subject of this article, and one who is an actual alcoholic. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a woman who has 7 or less drinks a month is considered low risk. For a male, 14 drinks a week is also low risk. Furthermore, this only applies if a woman has 3 or less drinks at one time and if a man has 4 or less drinks a day. That being said, it is clear that if these amounts are exceeded, you may be at a high risk for alcoholism.


While there is nothing wrong with the having fun and enjoying a drink in a social setting we are all cautioned to be aware of the danger signs when social drinking starts to become problem drinking. The second caution is to be aware of the fact that being a social drinker does not mean you are able to drive. Alcohol affects all of us in different ways so if you have even one drink you should never drink and drive as the consequences can be devastating.


There are several reasons why people drink at social functions. Perhaps the main reason is that it is a social norm that is linked to having a good time. Experts believe that this activity can increase an individual's happiness and strengthens bonding with friends. Social drinking has been a form of socialization for thousands of years, and today this practice shows no sign of waning.

A Poll on Social Drinking

Drinking with friends increases happiness

See results

© 2019 Joan King


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