Many recovering alcoholics know that one of the biggest triggers for drinking can be the company of others who are drinking. Many alcoholics may have, for some time, been unaware of the severity of their problem because of the fact that they considered themselves "social drinkers."
Many people may incorrectly assume that those who drink primarily in the company of others cannot be alcoholics. The reality is, however, that it is highly possible for alcoholism to be contagious and for a group of people who are addicted to alcohol to, in effect, enable one another.
Alcoholics May Not Be Aware Of The Influence Of Others
Some studies have shown that one reason social influence can have a dangerous impact on groups of individuals is that the true impact of social or "contagious" drinking may be somewhat undetectable by drinkers.
In one study conducted outside of a laboratory setting in the real world of a bar environment, a researcher posing as a bartender asked one friend in a group of two to either drink alcohol or a nonalcoholic drink like soda.
The pairs of friends then engaged in a social game designed to keep their minds on something other than what they were drinking. After two rounds, the drinking habits of the non-influenced friend were analyzed and it was found that that friend was three times as likely to order alcohol if their friend had.
When surveyed, however, only nineteen percent of the individuals believed that their drink choice had been influenced by what their friend had ordered. This seems to suggest that the social environment in which an alcoholic spends their time may have a major impact on how much they drink and what the likelihood is of them successfully recovering.
Addiction Counselors Recommend Abstaining from Alcohol Centered Events
For many recovering addicts, one of the biggest struggles after leaving treatment is dealing with the challenge of living as a sober person in a world where alcohol use is quite pervasive. Part of recovery means finding ways of dealing with the trigger that is the presence of alcohol, but this does not mean that it is necessary to put oneself in situations where alcohol will be present, particularly early on in recovery.
Many counselors recommend that recovering addicts avoid events where alcohol is a central factor. Perhaps more importantly, they may advise that individuals who drink heavily be avoided. This is because an individual or a group of individuals who drinks heavily can be a major trigger for a recovering addict, particularly if an addict drank with that individual or group prior to entering recovery.
Drinkers May Be Inadvertently Enabling Alcoholics
Many people who are not alcoholics may continue to drink in the presence of those who are addicted to alcohol. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, it is often difficult for the friends of a person who is suffering from alcoholism to recognize the signs of addiction. If they only see the person when they themselves are using, their own perception may be blurred.
Many alcoholics and other addicts are also quite adept at concealing the nature of their addictions. It is also possible for a person who does not consider themselves an alcoholic to drink without considering the social and physical implications of their actions. The reality is, however, that when even one person in a group drinks, they impact the decisions of all of the people around them.
Although social drinking often carries less of a stigma than drinking alone, it can be quite a serious and severe problem that leads both drinkers to consume more.