There is something soothing about casual drinking: it provides you with a relaxed state of mind, company when lonely and imagination when dull-minded. Alcohol becomes a soothing medicine when lonely or stressed or after a long day’s work. It’s also easy to consume and even easier to refill. But there’s a slippery slope to casual drinking.
That slippery slope is addiction. When is casual drinking casual and not pathological? One beer a day? Three times a week only? There’s no official recommendation for the right amount of alcohol consumption that will prevent the development of alcoholism. What is right for me, may be the last drink for you.
In general, drinking even one beer a day is too much. You may get away with this pattern for even years at a time, but at some point, your brain will want more. One factor is tolerance: one beer will simply not give you that oomph that you previously experienced. This is the basis for all types of addictions: what previously worked now requires a stronger stimulus.
Perhaps casual drinking is our ticket to alcoholism, but this does not mean that everyone keeps their ticket. There are many factors at play behind the development of alcoholism: genetics, social class, status, race, age, mental health, history of trauma, substance use, etc. Some people consume other drugs but have been casually drinking for years, without any signs of alcoholism.
Responsible drinking starts within you. It’s about maintaining control over your indulgence. If you are aware of the thought that consuming that next drink is out of desperation to get more intoxicated, then you should be willing to harness the strength to prevent yourself from grabbing it.
The toughest moment “is in the moment”: when you are feeling slightly disconnected from your baseline and would like to rev it up a notch or two. But casual drinking also poses the risk of progressing into binge drinking: the over-indulgence in alcohol in a short period of time.
Binge drinking is an entire separate chapter, but not one far away from casual drinking. You see, casual drinking can sprout into binge drinking, an alcohol use disorder or a straight path. The straight path is where you want to remain, if you’d like to continue enjoying casual drinking. The key is to never overdo something that provides you with pleasure; enjoy the opportunity for pleasure, but don’t go seeking more of it.
Sometimes you just have to allow pleasure to find you, for the sake of preventing a psychological or even physical addiction from developing.
Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)