We get it. Getting drunk – no biggie, right? You’ve been wasted a bunch of times, and it’s mostly involved good times. But do you know what’s really happening to you when you get drunk?
As Stephen Bright explained recently in The Conversation, alcohol is very embedded in Australian society, so much so that we get drunk without really knowing why or what’s happening when we do get drunk.
So, what’s actually happening to us when we have that 7th vino or pint?
- Firstly, alcohol is a chemical. It’s effects on the brain are quite complex and everyone responds to it differently.
- Alcohol effects us differently based on genetic make up, medical conditions, whether there’s food in your stomach, size of the person and ratio between muscle and fat, etc.
- Low doses of alcohol acts as a social lubricant as it reduces the functioning of the limbic system of the brain (a system of nerves that controls emotions). This therefore makes us feel less awkward and anxious in social settings – hooray!
- However, a common side effect of this low dose of alcohol – in our experience – is that it can often turn into a higher dose which makes you more impulsive and impair your judgement ***flashback to every poor decision made***
- As the dose of alcohol increases, so does the impact on the brain. Our behaviour becomes more uninhinited and as a result, our actions are even more impulsive as they’re driven by the more primitive parts of the brain. Meaning, we can experience an increase in aggression and sexual prowess (it’s making sense now, isn’t it?).
- But here’s the catch, high doses of alcohol also slow down the rate at which the brain talks to the rest of our body about vital processes, such as heart rate and breathing. Scary, huh?
- The setting where we drink has a major influence on the way we experience alcohol’s effects also. Alcohol can help us have a great time when we’re feeling postitive as much as it can exacerbate negative moods.
So the moral of the story is to put down that G&T when you’re desperately missing your ex-lover. No one wants to be a drunk dialler.