Peninsula Health Center

What is Grey Area Drinking?

If you or someone close to you has changed drinking habits lately, you might worry about the signs of grey area drinking. What is it? And when is it time to get help?

Peninsula Health Center is a dual diagnosis treatment center in Southern California that can offer treatment for alcohol abuse and problematic drinking. Contact us today to learn more about our Long Beach outpatient drug and alcohol treatment.

What is Grey Area Drinking?

The name suggests this defines the gray area, with no clear definition but a clear placement between occasional drinking for celebratory events and severe alcoholism.

Grey area drinking is any alcohol consumption that is not yet a substance abuse disorder but is not far from it. This usually runs between moderate consumption and tolerance to an inability to limit how much you consume.

Common Signs of Grey Area Drinking

Grey area drinking became a significant problem during the COVID pandemic. With more people home, unable to travel or go out, drinking became a mindless activity at home. People began to drink for no reason, no celebration or social event, knowing they didn’t have to drive. Very quickly, people consumed two or three drinks more than normal. 


Common signs go beyond drinking more than normal. Grey area drinking can be defined by how much you drink. For some, it means drinking multiple glasses per night or binge drinking when the plan was “one glass” to relax after work. Some people feel compelled to drink to enjoy themselves or relax and can’t do either without alcohol. 


The increased quantity can lead to tolerance. Grey area drinkers develop a tolerance, so they have to consume more than more alcohol to get the same feelings, whether they are relaxed feelings after work or a buzz. The tolerance developed can lead to issues of dependence. For some, this means wanting to stop or cut back on drinking but being compelled to drink regardless. 

Side Effects

This can quickly lead to unwanted physical side effects like hangovers. Grey area drinkers typically feel these side effects after unexpected binge drinking. Other side effects can include psychological side effects like anxiety over the quantity consumed or the inability to stop. Some grey area drinkers worry that other people are judging them. 

When Grey Area Drinking is a Problem

There are different levels of drinking. Some people drink occasionally, others binge drink, and some have an addiction. 

Problem Drinking

Problem drinking is a stage when you realize alcohol is having an impact on your life for the worse, but you still drink because you enjoy the effects. At this stage, grey area drinking might:

  • Impact your sleep
  • Make you sick
  • Leave you depressed or anxious
  • Cause relationship issues
  • Interfere with your social activities
  • Lead to legal issues

Alcohol Dependence

The next step is alcohol dependence. When you reach a dependence, it means you know that drinking has a negative impact on your life, like your relationships or mental health, and you might want to stop, but you can’t. At this stage, it is common to experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop drinking and you need to drink more and more often. 

Recognizing the signs of grey area drinking can help you decide when it is time to get help from Peninsula Health Center.

Treatment for Grey Area Drinkers

If you or people in your family are grey area drinkers, Peninsula Health Center can give you the treatment you need. Our facility offers outpatient and sober living levels of care. At Peninsula Health Center, we provide treatment that really works. 


For grey area drinking, we specialize in medication-assisted treatment for detox. Grey area drinkers are at risk for more complicated withdrawal symptoms, including hallucinations, seizures, and delirium tremens. With medication-assisted treatment, our facility can provide FDA-approved medications to manage the severity of these withdrawal symptoms and even help you manage cravings during the course of your outpatient services. 

Outpatient Services

We also provide multiple levels of outpatient care thereafter. If you want an outpatient program for alcohol that is full-time but short-term, PHP might be best. For those clients who need more flexibility in their schedules and are open to several hours of treatment per day, we also provide IOP services. 


At our facility, we can treat co-existing conditions with our dual diagnosis services. If you struggle with signs of grey area drinking and a mental health disorder, we can help. Our therapies include trauma-informed care for those who have PTSD or trauma in their past, as well as mindfulness and yoga. If you want to learn more about how our Palos Verdes drug and alcohol rehab can help, call today and speak with a member of our admissions team.