DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel the need to get buzzed before any sort of social interaction. I do not consider myself an alcoholic, but I know I interact with less trepidation after a few drinks. After suggesting we drink a bit before a small gathering, my best friend looked at me like I was crazy! I explained how I feel, and I know most people feel better after a little bit of alcohol is in them. I didn't mean to imply that the company we were going to be with drives to me drink, I simply wanted to be the most outgoing me I can be.
Is it wrong to drink some alcohol before going to social events? It just helps me feel more relaxed. If I try to hide this behavior, I'll feel like I am doing something wrong. -- Drinking Before and During, Syracuse, New York
DEAR DRINKING BEFORE AND DURING: While a false sense of security does come with the buzz you get from a couple of drinks, know that it is just that: false. It is way smarter to go anywhere with a clear head. In this way, you are keenly aware of who is around you and how you communicate. Since you feel shy or awkward in social settings, consider buddying up with someone who is more outgoing. Ask your friend to be the icebreaker. As far as small talk goes, start conversations by paying someone a compliment. By getting people to talk about themselves, you can ease into conversation.