Bioethics Blogs

In defence of drinking alone

By Rebecca Roache and Hannah Maslen



Yes they’re sharing a drink they call loneliness
But it’s better than drinking alone

– Billy Joel, Piano Man


Drinking alone is often frowned upon. Those who do it can be quite defensive about it—as illustrated by a Reddit thread entitled ‘Why do people think drinking alone is sad?’, a recent Wall Street Journal article by Lettie Teague called ‘Drinking alone: a bad idea or a toast to oneself?’, and a monologue on drinking alone by the American comedian Peter Holmes. Enjoying several glasses of wine at a dinner party, sharing a case of beers with a friend while watching the football, or toasting an achievement with a round of cocktails, are all considered acceptable. Less socially acceptable, however, is to do any of these things in solitude. Even holding the amount of alcohol consumed constant between settings, drinking alone rather than with friends is often seen as a more troubling activity.

There are two obvious reasons for thinking drinking alone is worse than drinking in company. The first involves the inference that drinking alone is symptomatic of an underlying problem with the drinker; as such, we think drinking alone is worse because it raises concerns about the welfare of the drinker. The second involves a moral disapproval of drinking alone.


The view that solo drinking is bad for solo drinkers

One reason to be concerned for the welfare of the solo drinker is that such a person strikes us as more at risk of pathological alcohol dependency than the social drinker.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.