The Fine Line Between the Alcoholic vs. Social Drinker

social drinking vs alcoholism
It’s not as simple as drawing a line in the sand and saying on one side stands the social drinker and on the other the alcoholic. That one additional drink magically transforms you from a normal drinker to a problematic one. Life isn’t that black and white, and drinking, like everything else in this world, exists in shades of gray. Along a spectrum. That said, there’s no doubt a difference between the two types of drinking but a person doesn’t necessarily switch overnight, they slip slowly, perhaps even imperceptibly, into alcoholism. While not being a literal line with an actual number of drinks attached to it, there certainly is a threshold people cross in their relationship with alcohol. So, what changes?

Establishing the Social Drinker

The social drinker has no real reliance on alcohol. Drinking is a compliment to their activity and not the reason they’re doing something. If they’re out with friends and the alcohol were removed, they’d still be having a good time. In other words, alcohol isn’t the star of their show. They’ll have a casual beverage to socialize, kick back and relax or relax but they don’t require or default to alcohol to do those things. They choose when they drink and drinking doesn’t get in the way of their work-life, their family life or their commitments. Social drinkers have a clear ability to stop or moderate their drinking. As far as definitions go, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines moderate alcohol consumption as, “up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men”.

Establishing the Alcoholic

Since we touched on the definition of moderate drinking, what defines heavy alcohol use? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, “for men, heavy drinking is typically defined as consuming 15 drinks or more per week. For women, heavy drinking is typically defined as consuming 8 drinks or more per week”. Think about that for a second. Is it surprising that the amount of drinks that constitute heavy alcohol use in the eyes of the CDC is just having essentially 1 more drink per day than a moderate drinker? Heavy use doesn’t automatically make someone an alcoholic though, it’s less about the number and more about that relationship with drinking. That said, binge drinking and heavy alcohol use can increase an individual’s risk of alcohol use disorder. The alcoholic’s relationship with alcohol is substantially different than that of the social drinker. Drinking is the reason they’ll participate in things and when they drink it’ll be with the intent to get drunk. They’ll drink alone. Their tolerance to booze will grow and they use drinking as a coping mechanism to deal with issues with all sorts of issues, from stress to being alone to anxiety about socializing. Drinking is the crutch they lean on. Alcohol will have a substantial effect on their work and personal life. Maybe not from the outset but it’s often only a matter of time until someone slips up in their alcoholism/alcohol use disorder. In other words, what defines the alcoholic is dependency.

How to Get Professional Help With Alcoholism

Alcohol use disorder is a scourge that affects 14.4 million adults in the United States and about 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually, but it’s not something you have to suffer through alone or silently. If you’re concerned you may have gone over that line yourself or have a loved one you think may be teetering on the brink, give us a call at Newport Beach Recovery Center. Our team has over 30 years of combined experience in treating alcoholism and is always available.

Benefits of Art Therapy in Addiction Treatment

art therapy in addiction treatment

Treating addiction isn’t as straightforward and uncomplicated as simply kicking a dependency to a substance. The body being weaned off drugs or alcohol through detox is only the start. Working on the mind is where the real, lasting change happens and where the ability to stick to sobriety is developed.

Therefore, it’s integral in recovery to dig deep and work out the root causes of addiction through things like counseling and group therapy. To cultivate new ways of thinking and relating to situations.

But talking has its limitations as a means of expression, people sometimes aren’t necessarily comfortable verbalizing everything and that’s understandable. Given that, alternative therapies have not only grown in popularity over the years but have become integral aspects of rehab centers as a way to allow people to get their full range of emotions and thoughts out.

Art therapy is one of those alternatives and it can work wonders for people.

What Is Art Therapy?

The American Art Therapy Association defines art therapy as something which “engages the mind, body, and spirit in ways that are distinct from verbal articulation alone. Kinesthetic, sensory, perceptual, and symbolic opportunities invite alternative modes of receptive and expressive communication, which can circumvent the limitations of language. Visual and symbolic expression gives voice to experience and empowers individual, communal, and societal transformation.”

In other words, when it’s hard to use your words, art becomes an incredibly valuable and accessible conduit for expression.

It’s worth noting that having some high level of artistic skill isn’t a prerequisite here, you don’t need to be Picasso or DaVinci to get the benefits. The point is self-expression, not creating masterpieces to display at the Louvre.

Heck, art therapy isn’t even confined to just painting. Many types of art are used: sculpting, drawing, music, doodling, carving, finger painting, etc. you name it. 

How Is Art Therapy Used in Addiction Therapy?

Art therapy is of course just one piece of a larger treatment program so its use is in conjunction with other more traditional treatment methods like the aforementioned group therapy or one on one counseling.

In addition to being able to express things that are hard to say, participating in the creative process or experiencing existing art is used therapeutically to help people explore their emotions and develop a more fine-tuned sense of self-awareness.

Effects of Art Therapy on an Addict

The positive effects can be profound and wide-ranging for those recovering from addiction:



Creating something from nothing is a powerful motivator. The feelings of accomplishment are incredibly useful building blocks for enhancing self-esteem and regaining confidence in yourself.

Emotional Relief

Holding in thoughts and emotions for a lack of a way of getting them out is a painful burden to carry. Finding a means of expression through art therapy can relieve you of that weight.


Like the emotional relief, the process of creation is inherently one of self-discovery. While looking within yourself, you very well may stumble on buried thoughts and feelings that the art allows you to work through.

Stress and Anxiety Relief 

Immersing yourself in the creative process naturally reduces stress and anxiety. Painting while stressed actually lowers feelings of stress and it’s been shown that music therapy, like movement to music, is associated with a decrease in anxiety, depression, anger, and stress.

Reach Out to Us Today at Newport Beach Recovery Center

The world of art therapy is in many ways a magical one. Tapping into the natural creativity we all possess to learn more about ourselves and strive towards getting better in the process is a profound complementary tool to traditional treatment programs. At Newport Beach Recovery Center, we’ve seen the transformative power ourselves and are huge advocates of it, get in touch with us and we’d be happy to give you more information on the benefits of art therapy.