Weekend Drinker

Dear Hoopers,
I’m a man in my early 30s, living in a small town. I always appreciated the simple things in life including working hard at my job and kicking back on the weekend with some beers. While I never really feel like I’ve had a problem and most of my friends drink just as much as me, I met a new girl through online dating and she has been acting weird about my drinking lately. In fact, a few weeks ago we had a fight because she said I drank too much. While I’m mostly confused because I’ve never considered myself to have a drinking problem, she is a really great girl and I don’t want to miss out. Any help is appreciated.
-Weekend drinker

Dear Weekend Drinker,teen advice columnists
Sometimes confusion can be a good thing. Just because you have always done something a certain way doesn’t mean it is still right for you. While you are used to drinking a certain way with your friends, exposing yourself to new situations and new people can be a good time to reevaluate things.

Culture and environment plays a big part in substance use including the friends you are around. Research has shown that including just one heavy drinker in a crowd increases others drinking as well. Given the power of social norms, heavy drinking can become an expectation amongst friends. This may be a good time to ask yourself about your hopes and expectations from drinking. Is it a way to relax? A way to fit in? These expectations may be contributing to the way that alcohol functions in your life.

If you are consuming more than 4 drinks on any given night or more than 14 in a week, you are in the binge drinking range.
-Dr. Ryan

Regarding the amount, here is a quick test to figure out if you may be drinking too much. Add up the number of drinks that you have in a typical week. If you are consuming more than 4 drinks on any given night or more than 14 in a week, then your drinking is in the binge drinking range. Over time, that level of drinking could cause some health problems for you and is generally considered unsafe.

Regardless of the amount consumed, if you feel yourself losing control of your drinking or thinking about drinking when you are away from it, this could also be suggestive of a problem. If after considering all of this you believe it may be time to cut back, that may be all the information you need to get your alcohol use back in order. However, if you find that you have a hard time with that task, know that there are many ways to help yourself with cutting back or stopping alcohol entirely including self help groups as well as professional support.
-Dr. Ryan

Dear Weekend Drinker,teen advice column
First, cheers to appreciating small towns and the small things! I grew up in a small town and often reflect on the beauty of its simplicity. It sounds like you live a content life and have built an identity in a comfortable community.

While comfortable, sometimes the day to day rhythms of life can become monotonous, causing us to lose focus on big picture goals. What do you value in life? Do you see yourself getting married? Having children? You mentioned not wanting to miss out on this girl, which leads me to believe that having a relationship is something you value. Do you value it more than drinking?

You found a girl that’s worth not missing out on. Put down the beer, or try drinking in moderation.

My first recommendation is to go a week without alcohol. It’s a good test to see if you think you may have a problem. We live in a culture that socializes around drinking. Many times indirect social pressure may make you feel tempted to drink just by being around others who are drinking. If you don’t have a problem ordering a non-alcoholic beverage, then meeting up with your friends at the bar may still be fine. However, if you find it becomes difficult to limit consumption of alcohol, I advise that you try socializing with your friends in a location outside of the bar.

You found a girl that’s worth not missing out on. Put down the beer, or try drinking in moderation. If you find that it’s a problem, then talk to someone about getting some help.