Not all people that enjoy an alcoholic beverage are alcoholics, nor will they all become alcoholics. Sometimes drinking can happen on a strictly social basis, but there are people that abuse alcohol and some people that become completely dependant on it. In fact, there are three basic types of drinkers.

You have the low risk drinkers that either rarely drink at all or only drink on social occasions. Then there are the binge drinkers, followed by high risk dependent drinkers, aka alcoholics. Here is a rundown of each of these three types of drinkers to help you understand the differences between each.

The Low Risk Drinker

The low risk drinker is the person that either rarely drinks at all or they simply drink on social occasions. They don’t pose much of a risk of becoming an alcoholic, hence being low risk. For women, low risk drinking is having no more than 7 drinks in a week, and no more the 3 in one sitting. For men it’s 14 drinks a week, a no more than 4 a day.

While any alcohol consumption can have negative impact on your liver and even your cardiovascular system, social drinkers will experience less of a risk than binge drinkers and alcoholics.

The High Risk Binge Drinker

Binge drinkers are those that drink past the limit of a low risk drinker. While they are not dependant on alcohol, like alcoholics, they do risk their lives by drinking too much in a short period of time. Instead of alcoholics, they are abusers of alcohol.

Dejected businessman having drink at bar --- Image by © Les and Dave Jacobs/cultura/Corbis

Dejected businessman having drink at bar — Image by © Les and Dave Jacobs/cultura/Corbis

Not only are they damaging their liver, they risk brain damage and even alcohol poisoning. Many abusers of alcohol have a tendency to drink until they blackout. It is also a common type of drinking during the teenage years.

The Alcoholic

If you feel like you need a drink or you drink to medicate yourself, then you are either an alcoholic or you are on the path to alcoholism. People who are addicted to alcohol will have withdrawal symptoms when they don’t get enough to drink.

Signs include, aside from withdrawals when not drinking, a want to stop but inability to, as well as an increased tolerance for alcohol. This means you can drink more without some of the general effects that binge drinkers and social drinkers have.

High risk drinkers, both abusers and alcoholics, spend a lot of money each year between their alcohol costs and their medical costs. For these types of drinkers there is help. However, the damage that has been done to the liver at this point isn’t always reversible and can cause many future issues.

If you or someone you know has an alcohol problem, find someone to talk to. You might not be able to stop on your own, but there is help out there.