There are 4 types of drinkers according to their motive for drinking. Where do you belong?
Drinking is a social and cultural norm. Our society has made it so easy and acceptable to drink alcohol that to be a non-drinker seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Have you gone to a party where you graciously decline a drink, and suddenly you’re the odd one out? While this social scenario may be funny, uncomfortable, or awkward at best, it confronts us with the fact that alcohol is more prevalent and deeply ingrained in our culture than we thought it to be.
But really, why do people drink?
There are many reasons why people drink. They may indulge to celebrate happy moments or numb out negative emotions. Some drink to unwind after a hard day’s work; others do it because it is easier to embrace peer and social pressures than to go against it.
To know what motivates people to drink, experts have devised the motivational model of alcohol use.
Motivational models of alcohol use postulated the existence of two distinct reinforcement pathways playing a major role in the development and maintenance of alcohol use and misuse (Cooper et al., 1995; Cox and Klinger, 2011). Some individuals drink alcohol for its positive reinforcing properties, in order to increase their positive affective experience (e.g., mood enhancement). Others drink alcohol for its negative reinforcing properties, in order to dampen their negative emotions and cope with distress and anxiety (tension reduction). These two reinforcement pathways are thought to result from different personality characteristics.
In short, this model proposes that we drink because we expect a change in how we feel after consuming alcohol. We are motivated by internal rewards such as enhancement of a desired personal emotional state or by external rewards such as social approval.
What are the Types of Drinkers?
- Social drinking: The Social Butterfly
You can spot a social drinker at casual gatherings or celebration parties, having a good time and chilling with friends and families. They indulge in alcohol primarily for companionship and enjoyment, and they drink purely to have fun and not get intoxicated.
Social drinkers know how to handle alcohol and where to draw the line when it comes to drinking. They don’t let alcohol get into their head, and drinking doesn’t disrupt their personal lives. Social drinkers are moderate drinkers.
This type of drinking is also referred to as ” responsible drinking.”
- Drinking to conform: The Chameleon
Like social drinking, people who drink to conform also drink on social occasions. But unlike the first type, people who fall in this category drink because they want to fit in, be part of the group, or please others. They may or may not want to drink, but their decision is driven mainly by others.
Research on young adults also shows that those who are socially anxious and therefore concerned with what other people think are more prone to drinking. Conformity motives are associated with lower alcohol intake.
- Drinking for enhancement: The Daredevil
People who are in this category are fun-seeking, aggressive, impulsive, and risk-takers. They drink to seek excitement, adventure, and thrill, so they are more prone to engage in risky behaviors like speed driving and lawbreaking. They drink to enjoy extreme and enjoyable sensations.
Adolescents and young adults are particularly vulnerable to enhancement motivation. This type of drinking is also a predictor of future binge drinking.
- Drinking to cope: Damsel in Distress
Alcohol is commonly used as a coping mechanism to overcome unpleasant emotions caused by trauma, anxiety, and depression. However, this is counterproductive and brings more harm than good.
People who drink mainly for coping motives have higher levels of neuroticism, low levels of agreeableness, and low self-esteem. Coping drinkers are usually identified as females. They drink more heavily and experience more alcohol-related problems than those who drink for other reasons.
Why is it important to know the motives for drinking?
Research has reported that understanding the motives for drinking can help in various prevention and harm reduction interventions. By knowing why people drink, medical professionals can come up with an effective strategy or treatment plan that will address the problem down to the core.
Alcohol only provides temporary relief. It is not a cure-all. Complete healing and recovery require the expertise of professionals like Heal@Home.
Heal@Home offers effective and sustainable treatment programs to guide your recovery journey. Get access to a team of experts and receive medical advice, weekly therapy sessions, and prescription medications to help you heal in the long run. And the best part? You can access all these with Heal@Home’s exclusive app.
Own your recovery. Be motivated, and be committed to getting your life back on track. Heal@Home will do the rest.