I've been drinking too much...but not the typical reason

I’ve come to realize that I’ve been overdoing it a little with the alcohol. I could cut back, but the problem is, I don’t want to, and I don’t see how I can.

On Thursday, I go to a happy hour with the CouchSurfers. I have about 5 drinks in four hours and take the metro home.
On Friday and Saturday, I take the girlfriend out partying/clubbing. So that’s another 4 drinks or so.
The next day is yet another Steeler Sunday, which absolutely requires 3 hours of drinking and yelling at the TV at my local Steeler bar.
Monday is pub trivia, which is a big hit with my friends, and it’s absolutely wrong to go enjoy free trivia games without purchasing any drinks.
Tuesday is poker night. My only night guaranteed away from the girlfriend! It’s all sports, cards, swearing, and beer until midnight.

Wednesday is my only night off from drinking. So it’s a little weird for me to tell if I have a problem. As far as I can tell, there aren’t any negative effects from it on the outside. I go to work, I don’t drive drunk, I’m not verbally abusive to anyone, and I can spare the calories. I like being drunk. Dancing, football, and happy hour (especially) aren’t very fun sober.

I guess what I need to know is:
Is this abnormal for a mid-20s almost-engaged guy?
Is it unhealthy?
Will it start a pattern, or am I likely to outgrow it (such as when I have kids)?
Did anyone else go through a period of life like this? Nostalgia or regrets?

In my early to mid 20’s, I had a similar pattern (though it was probably “only” 3 or 4 nights a week, not the 6 you are describing) and now that I just turned 40, I only drink once or so a week, depending if something special comes up or not. (a band coming thru town I like, or a big game on at the bar). While it may sound like you are going pretty heavy now, it dosent necc. mean that you are on your way to drunken ruin and a life on the streets…

Maybe cutting it back a bit wouldnt be a bad idea (on trivia night, try drinking soda, or have some N/A beer for poker night once in a while) but I have spent considerable time in many countries besides the USA, and in general, many Americans often feel that moderate social drinking is de facto evidence of an addiction, when in reality, alcohol is a large part of many cultures and drinking (in reasonable amounts and at appropriate times) for many people around the world is one of life’s little pleasures.

It all is subjective and personal—Do you feel you are OK with your alcohol intake?

If you feel like you want to cut back but are unable to, that would be a red flag.

For me, I still really enjoy beer, but it just dosent fit into my lifestyle more than once or so a week these days, but on the occasions when I do have a few cold ones, I do so with no hesitation, no guilt and no worries.

Let’s see. Trying to say this without sounding sanctimonious. Rather than your actual intake, I’d be more worrie about your reasons for drinking. I have no problem with alcohol for social occasions, or when you’re having fun with friends. But unless you’re exaggerating a bit, or just being a little cute, with the “required” or “have to”, you seem to feel that the alcohol is something you can’t avoid.

I’m having a little trouble understanding why any of those things require alcohol rather than pop or some other soft drink. Maybe you should just mix it up a bit, maybe trade off one for one, or something like that. That right there would cut your intake in half.

My other thought is that if you’re concerned about it you might want to think about why. Are you just asking because you added it up and it looks like a lot, or is it beginning to feel to you like it’s a problem? Seems like, if you’re asking, it might be a good enough time to do something, just to keep it from being a problem.

Mind you, this comes from someone who very rarely drinks, even out with friends, so take that into account. I’ve never run across a situation, or been with a group, where I felt alcohol was called for, so your experience is different from mine. I’m just throwing out thoughts here.

I think you’re likely to outgrow it - your alcohol consumption sounds secondary to your socializing. When you get married, you will probably spend more nights at home, especially if you have kids. If you don’t, your wife will probably have a few choice discussions with you about it. :slight_smile: Then there’s your waistline - you might have to cut back just because of the calories - that’s a lot of empty calories! Another thought - alcohol is a toxin - you might want to consider how much of that you want in your system day after day.

ETA: I don’t drink either, but I stopped because my body doesn’t tolerate alcohol - when I started getting a hangover from two beers, I just quit.

One thing which happened to me was that I fell in love with beer. That wasn’t so much of a problem when I was younger, but after you reach middle age, boy those carbs really start bloating your midsection. My regret is that I undulged myself for so long that it became a nightly habit, and was hard to break.

One thing which worked for a while there was to switch between ‘real’ beer and non-alcoholic beer while drinking. That cut my alcohol intake in half right there.

Sounds like typical mid-20s socializing. If you stay in the city, you’ll be on here in 5 years posting about how all your friends have moved to the suburbs and you don’t get to socialize like you used to when you were single.

Because I’m at a bar most of the time. I didn’t drink at last night’s poker game, so that’s a start. But at a happy hour? It’s called for. At a pub trivia night? The pub isn’t running the promotion for the hell of it. They want me to buy alcohol. So I’m obligated to, or quit using their trivia night. It’d be like not tipping the waitress. I can’t sit there for 2 hours and drink $1.25 in pop and walk away with a clear conscience.

It’s mostly because I’m adding it up on paper (or in the OP) and it looks like a lot. I’ll be walking home and I’ll think “Man, I’m drunk AGAIN. This can’t be good…can it?” So I’m asking you guys.

That’s part of what I’m asking. Is, let’s say, 44 oz of beer a night for 6 nights too much?

I’m a drinking guy, but I think you’re wrong about pub trivia. I go every Wednesday with a steady group. Some nights, I’m too broke to buy beer or I’m the driver. At least one person on our team only drinks diet soda, never alcohol. But as a group, on average, we spend enough that we’re always welcome.

Personally, I think you’ll burn out on this much of a social life before it becomes a major issue. I drank at least that often in my mid20s, and more at a time. Now I keep it to the weekends or when there’s a show, and it’s no big deal. But if there are trivia nights where you don’t feel like knocking them back, don’t - once in a while does not make a deadbeat.

It’s the “I don’t see how I can” that worries me. You are trying to make control of your habit external, which implies a basic turn of mind toward addictive behavior. Are you able to relax without booze? Are you able to have fun without booze? It sounds to me like you are substituting drunkeness for fun.
Here’s a thought: order soda, hang out with your friends, find out whether they are really fun to be around.

I don’t quite get that advice. You know, there are a couple people I know who are only fun when we are drunk together. That doesn’t mean that the fun we have is fake or in some way inferior. It just means we only hang out when we intend to drink.

I don’t accept the assumptions that:

  1. Happy Hour requires you to drink
  2. Pub Trivia night means the pub expects you to order multiple (or any) beers

I’ve done both without buying beer and have a completely clear conscience.

I’m in my mid 20s, too.

I don’t go out 6 night each week, but 2-4 isn’t uncommon. Like you, much of my social life involves drinking situations… birthday parties, concerts, sports leagues, street festivals, happy hour after work, trivia, etc. For me, it can get exhausting if the nights run together too much. If I end up somehow out on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, I would probably feel like staying in and watching a movie on Saturday. Drinking too much is exhausting. After a night of medium to heavy drinking the last thing I want is a beer. This is a major difference I’ve noticed between myself and a friend that has problems with alcohol. If we’re out late, in the morning he’s craving a Bloody Mary or a beer. I can’t stand the thought of a drink.

I quit drinking for about six months a couple of years ago, when I was 23. (To lose weight, not because I thought my consumption was excessive.) I had been worried about it, because I had a couple of weekly gatherings that involved either a few points or a couple of bottles of red. But I wanted to shift the kilos, so I quit. And the weekly gatherings didn’t stop being fun. The house parties, I’ll admit, were less enjoyable, although the sober drivers/ not-drinkers enjoyed having me around in the wee hours as everyone else started getting drunk.

‘The bar needs my money’ is an odd justification for not being able to drink less. If one of your mates decided to cut down on the amount he drank, and picked the pub quiz to do it, what would you think? Would it bother you? If you’re worried about the pub/bar losing out by you choosing Sprite over beer, tip the staff a couple of bucks. Or buy everyone a pack of crisps.

I don’t, to be clear, think you’re drinking too much. If you’re worried, but not worried enough to cut down, then you either have a problem with alcohol or you actually aren’t that bothered. I’m betting on the latter.

Don’t ever feel obligated to drink alcohol if you don’t want to. No one can force you to drink, nor does anyone EVER have the right to. You, as an independent human being with a right to your own bodily integrity, have absolutely every right to choose what does or doesn’t in your body, and nobody has the right to tell you otherwise. At Happy Hour, have five drinks if you want to, or one if you prefer, or just sit out the drinking and focus on socializing with your friends. You’re the boss. At pub trivia night, is there a mandatory drink minimum? If not, you’re under no obligation to buy any drinks, and rest assured that plenty of other people will be drinking and the bar won’t go out of business because you prefer not to drink. If you still feel guilty, just leave a nice tip, it’ll be greatly appreciated. If there is a drink minimum, then don’t assume you can’t purchase nonalcoholic drinks - I bet you can. You can also buy alcohol and give it to a friend, or a cute stranger, instead of drinking it yourself. Or you can buy a drink and just sip it lightly or just stare at it – it’s up to you. You are never under an obligation to drink if you don’t want to. And if, despite all that I’ve said, you still feel you really have no choice not to drink at trivia night (or happy hour or whatever other social event), you can always choose a different evening activity that doesn’t “require” drinking.

As a corollary to the above, don’t externalize your choice to drink. You don’t drink because your environment forces you to. You drink because you choose to. It’s up to you to decide whether your choice to drink in any given situation is wise or not; I’m certainly in no position to judge. But blaming your external environment for your choices is a bad path to head down.

Half of these situations are going to go away after you get married, that may solve the problem right there. I drink a lot less now that I’m married.

Seriously, though, as long as you’re able to function at work and in your personal relationships, it’s hard to say that you have a problem. Don’t use Tylenol.

One thing to consider is whether it’s interfering with your sleep. Are you able to sleep through the night? Are you waking up in the middle of the night after the buzz wears off, having to pee and unable to fall back to sleep?

How much do you weigh? That’s like 600 empty calories per day, nearly every day.

If you want to go by medical “unhealthy” policies then consuming more than 2-3 “standard” (the 8oz beer, the 4oz wine, the 2oz shot) drinks for a male per day is considered the limit.

And then if you went to the Doctor and he was a new guy who didn’t know you, he’d probably CAGE you to see if you might fit the pattern for being predisposed to alcoholism:

  1. Do you feel Concerned about your drinking?
  2. Do you get Annoyed with people telling you to cut back or stop your drinking?
  3. Do you feel Guilty about drinking?
  4. Have you ever woken up and had an Eye-opener (an alcoholic beverage to start the day)?

I think having 2+ positives is considered a positive correlation to consider talking to patient about alcoholism and cutting back and such things (or at least it gets to go in their chart).
Not sure how many doctors actually DO do that- then again I’ve never told my doctor that I drink, so the issues never come up for me.

:shrug: If you feel you’re in control fair enough, but if you find yourself actually thinking you cannot have a good time or possible really attend these events without partaking in some form of alcohol, then I’d be a bit leery of my behavior, ya know?

Saw a sign in a bar in Pittsburgh : “Blitzburgh, a drinking town with a football problem” :stuck_out_tongue:
Your description of your social schedule reminds me of Homer when he joined the Stonecutters, something like : “Monday : beer blast, Tuesday, kegger, Wednesday, (some other drinking occasion)”, finally “Sunday, AA meeting”. :smiley: (I’m sure some real Simpson’s aficionado can get the quote right).
Anyway, sounds like you’re just a young guy having fun. Good on you for not drinking & driving & monitoring your health & social functioning. As other people have mentioned, it may get harder to keep up that level of drinking as you get older, for a variety of reasons, but then again you Blitzburgers are made of stronger stuff!
Personally, I can’'t drink during the workweek anymore, jut isn’t worth it to me, messes w/ my sleep, can’t stand going to work hungover, harder to keep the weight off, all that middle aged guy shit, etc., etc. I probably more than make up for it on the weekends though, just find it alot easier to relax & enjoy it then.
But hey, have fun while ya can. Marriage/ kids, tends to make that lifestyle alot more difficult to maintain.

I don’t think you drink too much. I’m in my early 20’s and I go out and get drunk (not wasted, but drunk) about 4 times a week. It doesn’t affect me negatively- I still get up at 7 in the morning to go to work, never miss something because I’m too hungover, never been in trouble for anything drinking related, etc. If you start to have these problems, stop. But what you’re doing sounds okay to me, if you can afford it and it isn’t making you fat. Enjoy the ability to get drunk and bounce out of bed in the morning while you can, is what everyone says to me. In a few years we’re not going to be able to do it anymore.

Good question; I don’t think there’s much controversy about ethanol being toxic, but the question comes in with how much, for how long. Maybe you could ask your doctor next time you see him. You are taking in a fair amount of ethanol on a weekly basis.

Here’s an article talking about alcohol’s toxicity.

Here’s another one on alcohol toxicity - at one point it mentions that it is also not good for over long periods of time as well as in large amounts.