Why Do People Drink Alcohol?

Many of us drink alcohol. But few of us consider why it is that we choose to drink. There are several different reasons as to why people drink alcohol. Some of these reasons are healthier …


Many of us drink alcohol. But few of us consider why it is that we choose to drink. There are several different reasons as to why people drink alcohol. Some of these reasons are healthier than others. By understanding why we drink alcohol, we can determine whether we have a healthy relationship and whether changes to our drinking habits are necessary. This post delves more into the main reasons for drinking alcohol.

Social acceptance

Some of us drink purely to feel socially accepted. Such people are known as ‘social drinkers’ and are unlikely to choose to drink on their own. Alcohol can be a major part of many social events from toasting the bride at a wedding to playing drinking games at a college party. In these instances, we may drink in order to feel socially involved. 

There is no harm in doing this providing that you are not being peer pressured into drinking. In a healthy drinking environment, there should always be the option to say no. You also shouldn’t feel socially compelled to drink huge amounts just to keep up with friends or family.


Some of us drink not to fit in, but to rebel. This is a lot less common because of how socially acceptable drinking is in most circles. It is typically only teengers who drink to rebel.

This is typically unhealthy behaviour as it involves drinking purely to ‘break the rules’. It may even be done deliberately to make someone upset, making it a form of aggressive behaviour. 

Increased confidence

Some of us drink to gain some ‘dutch courage’. Alcohol gets rid of our inhibitions, enabling us to do things we’d otherwise be too scared to do when sober. Common examples include dancing, doing karaoke or even giving a speech. 

There’s nothing wrong with using alcohol for the occasional confidence boost, providing that you’re not a) drinking huge amounts to reach the right level of confidence, and b) not using that confidence to do something potentially dangerous or embarrassing or illegal. You also don’t want to be relying on alcohol to function normally because you suffer from daily anxiety. This is a form of unhealthy self-medication (which is explained a little further down in greater detail). 

The taste

While few people like the taste of alcohol at first, it can eventually become something that people get a taste for. Some of us enjoy the taste of specific drinks – not just because of the alcohol, but because of other ingredients. Some of us meanwhile enjoy the exploration of new tastes. Such people are typically classed as ‘enthusiasts’ and may favour a certain type of alcoholic drink such as beer, wine or cocktails – and the culture that comes with this drink.

Drinking purely for the taste can be healthy providing that you’re still sticking to the recommended weekly unit intake. Once you start continuously craving a taste to the point that you drink heavily, it can quickly evolve into an addiction. 


Alcohol can reduce cortisol levels and increase serotonin levels. This makes us happier and more relaxed. It’s this reason that many people enjoy a glass of wine while having a bath or a beer while sitting in the garden on a hot day.

Drinking to relax can be healthy provided that you don’t rely on alcohol as a sole stress reliever (a form of self-medication) and that you don’t have to drink huge amounts just to feel relaxed (after all, a hangover can increase stress hormone production).  


Drinking to self-medicate involves using drink as a form of treatment for an illness. This could be a form of pain relief for a physical illness, or a way of coping with a mental illness like depression or anxiety.

Alcohol is never a healthy form of medicine, because its effects are only temporary. It can also cause more health problems in the long run if you continuously rely on it. It is always better to seek out official medication rather than turning to alcohol.


Drinking alcohol heavily and regularly can cause your body to develop withdrawal symptoms during periods when you’re not drinking. This can result in people drinking simply to get rid of these withdrawal symptoms. 

This is the unhealthiest reason to drink and yet the hardest to overcome. Many drinkers who get to this stage have no choice but to go on an alcohol detox managed by professionals. This may involve rehabilitation and prescribed drugs to reduce withdrawal symptoms. With this treatment and enough willpower, you can then overcome an alcohol addiction. 

What’s your reason for drinking?

All in all, it’s worth considering the above motives and where you fit in. It’s possible there may be multiple reasons why you drink. Alternatively, you could find that there’s one sole reason.

Providing your reason and intake is healthy, you can continue. However, you should also consider the fact that drinking alcohol is never necessary, and that most motives for drinking can be fulfilled through other healthier means.

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