Gray Area Drinking has become a sobering reality that affects millions of people worldwide.
For far too long, society has placed problematic drinking in a black or white box. One is either an alcoholic or they are not. That is simply not true. About 50% of people that consume alcohol may be in the gray area.
What exactly does it mean to be in the gray area?
Gray area drinking is comprised of a wide spectrum of drinkers. It is someone that is between a social drinker and severely abusing alcohol.
Typically, a gray area drinker has not experienced a “rock bottom” or a major life-altering impact.
It is someone that appears to be living a very normal life from the outside, but internally, a gray area drinker might be experiencing shame, guilt, and embarrassment for their habits.
To give an example, a gray area drinker may have a few glasses of wine per day or perhaps binge drink on the weekends. Another example is someone that may be able to abstain several days in a row, or weeks to prove to themselves that they are “normal drinkers”, but it often doesn’t last.
A gray area drinker could also binge drink on occasion.
What is a binge drinker?
When we think of the typical binge drinker, we may automatically think of the college student that is in a fraternity or sorority. They drink themselves into oblivion while downing massive amounts of beer through the infamous beer bong.
Binge drinkers are not just college students, of course. They can also include professionals, stay-at-home parents, or anyone for that matter.
By definition, they consume more than 4 drinks in one sitting (women) and more than 5 drinks (men) in under two hours. *
One in four adults binge drink on a regular basis. When binge drinking occurs in 5 or more days in a month’s time, this leads to heavy alcohol consumption. This is when the scale quickly turns to severe alcohol abuse disorder.
Let’s look at the typical four types of drinkers:
- The Non-Drinker -an abstainer or teetotaler
- The Social Drinker. This person could easily have one drink on occasion and has no desire to consume alcohol on a regular basis. They are content at “just a few” from time to time.
- The Gray Area Drinker– This spectrum covers a wide range of drinkers and behaviors. They are in the space between socially drinking and severely abusing alcohol.*
- The Severe Abuser – someone that is physically and psychologically dependent on alcohol.
Most gray area drinkers realize that saying no to the 2nd or 3rd drink is hard to do. They also drink more often than they intend. This leads to more shame, negative self-talk, and embarrassment. It is a constant power struggle of energy to keep up the facade that they’re fine. They most likely feel like an imposter, or that they are pretending to have it all together.
If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. About 50% of drinkers may be in the gray area, and are beginning to question the drink.*
For gray area drinkers, drinking is a choice.