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What Are 4 Types of Drinkers? 3 Categories of Alcohol Consumption

4 categories of drinkers

Generally, motives for drinking alcohol fall into 4 categories, which include social drinking, drinking to conform, drinking for excitement, and drinking to cope.

Every person who drinks alcohol may have reasons for doing so. Some may drink to reinstate their social status, whereas others may drink to elevate their depressed mood. 

Generally, motives behind drinking fall into 4 categories that include:

  1. Social drinking (to celebrate): Most people drink for social reasons or to double their fun.
    • Across cultures and countries, social motives have been the most common reason for drinking. For such people, drinking is a social pastime.
    • People mainly drink to chill with their friends and families and have fun with their loved ones.
    • People who drink for social reasons drink moderately. They often know their limits and never overdo them.
  2. Drinking to conform (to fit in): For some people, drinking is not a choice they prefer to make, but they do so on social occasions just to fit in.
    • They usually drink less than people who drink for other reasons.
    • Most people will hold a glass of wine to avoid feeling different, whereas some may sip a glass of champagne.
    • Some may drink to please their colleagues or seniors or fit in a particularly cool group they were eyeing for long.
  3. Drinking for enhancement (to bring out excitement): Some people drink for excitement, adventure, and thrill beyond social motives.
    • These people are aggressive, extroverted, and impulsive.
    • Mostly, adolescents and young adults engage in this type of drinking to seek a thrill. They may further engage in risky behaviors such as speed driving and lawbreaking.
  4. Drinking to cope (to forget worries): Some people drink to overcome their negative emotions such as anxiety, depression, or shortcomings.
    • Generally, these people have a low self-image or negative view of themselves. They may resort to alcohol to combat their anxiety, depression, or other problems in life.
    • People who drink to cope:
      • Are mostly women.
      • Drink more heavily.
      • Experience more alcohol-related problems than those who drink for other reasons.

Although alcohol may give short-term relief to your emotions, its long-term consequences are undesirable and far worse than the problems you were trying to cope with. When underlying problems remain unaddressed, drinking behaviors worsen, leading to further complications.

3 types of alcohol consumption

Based on the frequency of alcohol consumed, drinkers can be classified into three types:

  1. Light or social drinkers: They drink on occasions and generally do not face any problems or negative consequences. These people are mature enough to handle their alcohol intake and hardly pass out or lose control. Alcohol doesn’t occupy their thoughts, and hence, they are never prone to mood swings, fighting, or violence.
  2. Moderate drinker: Light drinkers may change to moderate drinkers when they drink more often. They drink to the extent of facing the harmful effects of alcohol. People can go for long periods of alcohol abstinence, but they might binge after seeing alcohol.
  3. Heavy drinkers: These people are addicted to alcohol. Alcohol mostly occupies their mind, and they are prone to constant mood swings, fighting, or violence. They may have a high tolerance and require more alcohol to get original effects. Some of the negative consequences faced by heavy drinkers include:
    • Ruined relationships
    • Jeopardized health
    • Problems in work and social circles

Why is knowing the motives for a drinker important?

Research has reported that knowing the motives of heavy drinkers can help during interventions.

One study has reported that addressing anxiety and depression in young women and counseling them regarding the ill effects of alcohol has led to decreased consumption; however, no such changes were seen in men.

While research has studied the motives of young adults and adolescents, the reasons behind adult drinking have hardly been studied.

People who drink to forget about their problems should remember that they would face them in the morning when the effect of alcohol fades. If something bothers you, it is better to discuss it with your loved ones or seek professional help than take refuge in alcohol or other harmful habits.


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