Why Do People Drink Alcohol? The Reasons Revealed

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited : November 18, 
| 4 Sources

There are many reasons as to why we drink ranging from the benign to the malignant....

If you are among those who ask, "why do people drink alcohol?," It's because alcohol is commonly consumed in our society. It has been a part of the human experience since the beginning. It used to be something that people risked their lives to create, sell and drink, but today we have the luxury of purchasing it at gas stations, grocery stores, and liquor stores stacked with bottles of every possible variety.

We no longer have to whisk down strong moonshine because we have thousands of different wines and even sweet wine coolers, margaritas, and frozen drinks.


So, why do people drink alcohol today? Is it different from the reasons people drank in the days of running moonshine?

For many adults, alcohol is a pleasurable way to mark the most memorable moments of life. Think of a father toasting his daughter the day he walks her down the aisle.

The highlights of a lifetime can be marked by a drink or two and it is completely healthy. Some drinks like red wine can even have some health benefits. It is when alcohol becomes too important in daily life that it tips the line toward unhealthy.

Why Do People Drink Alcohol?
Healthy Reasons To Drink

Some healthy reasons to enjoy an alcoholic beverage or two include:

  • A one-time celebration of something spectacular in life, such as a graduation party.
  • Toasting to the good fortune of others, such as a wedding reception.
  • Occasional enjoyment with friends and loved ones.
  • Unwinding and relaxing after a long day (small amounts of alcohol). The drinking reduces, albeit temporarily, the stresses of anxiety.
  • For pleasure or pastime, such as a wine tasting vacation.
You could add to this list many other healthy reasons why people drink, but notice that most of these occasions call for a one-time drinking experience or small amounts of alcohol. None of them include drinking to excess and many of them are social occasions enjoyed with others.

Do you think you might be drinking to excess? Check with an alcoholism test.

Why Do People Drink Alcohol Socially?

When you talk about healthy drinking, there is a clear distinction between,

Drinking alone


Drinking in the company of others.

Social drinking often places an emphasis on interacting with others. You enjoy the drinks while holding entertaining conversations, laughing, or enjoying games and activities. As a matter of fact, drinking alcohol has become deeply tangled with themes of joyful celebrations, social engagement, and all the rest of it.

When you drink alone the emphasis is often placed on the alcohol and the way it makes you feel. The exception here would be someone who enjoys a glass of wine or two in the evening after a particularly hard day. The emphasis here can be on relaxing and taking the edge off the pressure, but a healthy drinker will not focus on forgetting or erasing the negative emotions left by the trials of the day.

Most healthy drinkers enjoy alcohol as a social feature. It is just one way they relax and bond with others, but they primarily enjoy the conversations and time spent with others.

The problem with social drinking is that it can serve as the beginning stages of an alcohol addiction. While drinking in the company of others most people are not consciously aware of how many drinks they are consuming. It is easy to go overboard and wake up in the morning wondering what happened the night before.

Most people will learn with experience how many drinks and what type of drinks they can consume without experiencing hangovers. The problem comes for those who start depending on the alcohol for something deeper.

For instance, the chronically shy woman who is desperate to meet someone special and settle down may like the way alcohol allows her to drop her guard and interact more with others. She may start to drink for that purpose, rather than for the enjoyment of others or special occasions.

When Drinking Turns Sour

The problem with alcohol addiction is it sneaks up on you. Most alcoholics do not know that they have a real problem until the drinks have started to affect their daily life negatively. It often has to go that far before those who love them pick up on the signs as well.

Unhealthy drinking can often be detected by one or more of these signs:

  • Drinks are consumed on a daily or near daily basis.
  • There is a sense that the alcohol is needed to get through the day or to survive certain situations comfortably.
  • You don't feel well without drinking at least a little alcohol every day.
  • Secretive drinking occurs, which is classified as hiding alcohol to sneak drinks without others knowing or escaping the company of others to drink alone.
  • Public displays of drunkenness.
  • Poor behavior when drinking which is not typically characteristic of the drinker.

For more on the symptoms of alcoholism, read signs of alcoholism

Basically, when drinking starts to impact life in a negative way and the alcohol becomes the purpose of drinking rather than the celebration of life, the process of unhealthy drinking has started.

So, why do people drink alcohol today? Most of them for probably the same reasons our ancestors risked their lives and freedom to drink moonshine. To mark the highlights of a life well lived.

And yet, there is a dark side and that is when people live to drink.

If you or someone close to you wants help and advice on quitting drinking then take a look at the following pages:

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 


I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More


National Geographic. Our 9,000-Year Love Affair With Booze. February 2017. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/02/alcohol-discovery-addiction-booze-human-culture/

The Guardian. Why do humans like to get drunk? You asked Google – here’s the answer. March 16, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/16/why-humans-get-drunk-google

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcoholism: Natural History and Background. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/healthdisparities/alcoholism1.htm

Psychology Today. Why Do People Drink?. March 3, 2017. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/science-choice/201703/why-do-people-drink

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