Alcohol isn't a necessary ingredient in social gatherings, but if it makes you and your friends happy to share cocktails and unwind together, there's no reason to shun it completely. For the following three reasons and many more, social drinking is as safe as you want it to be.
If you're worried about a genetic predisposition to alcoholism, you've probably been affected by society hype and/or affected by someone else's excessive drinking habits. When a parent, grandparent, or other relative makes destructive choices because of alcohol, it's understandable to exercise caution around it. However, you should view their experiences as lessons, rather than predictions of your behavior. There's no such thing as an addictive gene, and only your choices â€“ not theirs â€“ will determine your future behaviors.
In fact, because you already know which choices you don't want to make, you may have a more compelling reason to stick to your goal of moderation. People regularly drink excessively because they can't or won't think about the possible consequences of their short-term satisfaction. You are already aware of the possibilities, so arm yourself with this wisdom and choose your own future instead of resigning yourself to an all-or-nothing fate.
You will always have full control over the amount of alcohol that you drink. You may choose to stop exercising that control, of course, but that won't happen unless you allow it to happen. Alcohol can't "sneak up" on you. It's a substance, not a criminal in a dark parking lot. If you're intent on moderating your alcohol use and avoiding harmful consequences, simply practice some self-awareness.
Reflect on your choices from time to time, so you can recognize thought and behavior patterns instead of pretending there's nothing wrong. It may help to document each day in a journal or calendar, giving you a record to reference if those nagging fears creep up again.
There isn't a magical moment at which casual alcohol use becomes uncontrollable "alcoholism". This "disease of alcoholism" is a theoretical construct which has been discounted by a lack of scientific evidence, and common sense is all you need to prevent it from becoming a lifelong concern.
Even getting drunk or intoxicated isn't necessarily a poor choice. If you seek intoxication as a form of stress relief, or if you're not comfortable in social settings without being under the influence, you may have needs and feelings you'd be wise to address. However, if you're aware of alcohol's effects as you indulge with your friends, it's perfectly possible to enjoy drinking without letting it cause any long-term problems.
Arrange a designated driver or take a cab if you plan to have more than one drink. Unless you fail to make the proper preparations or you choose to endanger yourself or others after drinking by driving, the biggest consequence you'll face is a hangover that goes away before the end of the next day. In fact, even morning-after sickness isn't inevitable. Just make sure you don't skip lunch before hitting up happy hour, and stay hydrated by drinking sufficient glasses of water along with your alcohol consumption and enjoy yourself.