We tend to drink during special occasions and social gatherings to let go of our inhibitions and enhance the fun experience of the moment. Drinking alcohol intensifies some of our personal traits that help us communicate and socialize better. It can affect how we think, giving us the feeling of escalating emotions.
Also, alcohol is a social lubricant; drinking with a group enhances your emotional bonding with your friends. It’s normal to cry from time to time, and many people will need the company of their friends. But you don’t need the influence of alcohol to do all that.
Too much alcohol can also get us all emotional and explains how women become so uninhibited and end up extremely sensitive, or a guy becomes more aggressive and starts picking up a fight. There is logical step-by-step reasoning why a Saturday “night-out” can suddenly become a brawling incident or a public weeping festival.
Why Do We Get Drunk?
Some of us enjoy a glass of wine with dinner or when attending an event. For some, a beer when meeting with high school friends. But some drink to make them feel better or to forget the pain of a traumatic experience.
Some who are going through tough times may drink more. It aids in alleviating the negative feelings and temporarily removes stress and anxiety. Another simple reason why people get drunk is that alcoholic drinks are easily accessible. Most cultures consider alcohol drinking as a vital part of their celebrations and events.
We generally drink to have fun, and as the night goes on, the fun continues until we get drunk. Being drunk gives us a boost with mood and the temporary feeling of happiness and carefree feelings. When we are nervous during social gatherings, getting a drink gives us feelings of relaxation and less anxiety.
A hangover is the expected effect of alcohol on the brain. Different amounts of alcohol affect the functioning of the neurotransmitter and activity of the brain. It can make the neurons respond, which causes excitement and euphoria, or it could also interfere with the response that can cause inhibitions. The effects of alcohol in the limbic system cause short-term memory loss when we had too much to drink or commonly known as “intoxication blackouts“, for some hangover.
Alcohol Is a Depressant
Alcohol use can be a depressant of the central nervous system since it can affect the natural level of serotonin, endorphins, dopamine, and oxytocin in the brain, known as the “happiness chemicals”. This explains the feeling of euphoria and boost during the night of drinking and feels glum, anxious, and depressed the next day.
When alcohol depresses the central nervous system further, it can lead to impairments such as perception disorder, slurring of speech, unsteady gait and movement, and incapability to react faster. All of this sound familiar? Alcohol may depress your brain functions.
Alcohol usage can also aggravate the effects of mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, or long-term sadness. In most cases, too much use of alcohol might lead to suicidal ideation or tendencies.
Mental Health Effects of Alcohol
Alcohol does affect not only our behavior but also the way we think. Being drunk affects our rational thinking, may influence our judgment and lessens our inhibition. Drinking too much alcohol may lead to long-term depression and may become worse over time.
Alcohol causes dopamine to flood our brains. This happiness chemical gives us power and too much confidence that reduces fear. Alcohol makes us less inhibited by insecurity and self uncertainty, making us feel that we have become the person we imagine ourselves to be.
Alcohol is the “liquid courage” that gives us the feeling of self-assuredness and helps us forget about our social anxiety. It puts us at ease when talking to other people and keeps us grounded with ourselves.
Drinking alcoholic beverages can cause depression and other negative effects on mental health. Those suffering from anxiety tend to be more extremely anxious after drinking—having too much to drink causes physiological alterations in the brain.
Having a drink for stress relief can worsen stress in the long run. As the alcohol’s effects leave the body, it can cause panic attacks and anxiety, especially in people with mental disorders.
Using alcoholic beverages to treat anxiety can lead to a vicious pattern. You tend to drink to get over your anxiety. When you become sober and feel anxious, you will try to look for a drink again until it becomes a habit trapping yourself in a never-ending loop of intoxication. Do you know what’s worse? This may lead to substance abuse disorder.
Alcohol Use Worsens Emotions
Having a low mood after a night of partying and drinking can leave you feeling dreadful and tired. These feelings worsen when you have underlying mental depression or anxiety since alcohol use magnifies emotional intensity. Have you experienced waking up the next day with a hangover and still feel crappy or depressed? It happens.
The use of alcohol affects the brain areas that regulate behaviors and emotions. Yes, you might be drinking to clear your mind or forget about your problems, but when the initial euphoria goes down, you might end up drowning with depressing feelings instead.
When drinking alcohol starts to cloud your brain, it will affect your problem-solving skills and prevents you from seeing possible solutions to your problems. It also decreases inhibitions, so when you’re dealing with anger, sadness, or rage, they can flood your emotions after you start drinking.
How Alcohol Drinking Causes Sleep Deprivation
Some people who suffer from sleep deprivation and insomnia drinks alcohol to help them fall asleep during bedtime, which does no good. Aside from the initial euphoric effect, alcohol also has sedating effects that reduce the time needed to fall asleep.
The effects of alcohol consumption do not end there. Alcohol drank an hour before bedtime will disturb the second cycle of sleep. This will cause the person to wake up, and toss and turn in the middle of the night and have difficulty going back to the REM stage of sleep.
People who are suffering from alcoholism experience insomnia as part of withdrawal symptoms. Being unable to sleep properly can affect their day-to-day life, including their mood, decision-making, and concentration.
Levels of Alcohol Intoxication
When we ingest alcohol, it disturbs the brain’s pathways of communication and how the brain process information. Here are the levels of alcohol intoxication:
When the alcohol content in the blood is between the range 0.01-0.05, you enter the first level of alcohol intoxication. You might not appear that you have been drinking; some may still look sober. But you will experience a slight impairment in your judgment and behavior. Depending on alcohol tolerance, gender, and weight, most individuals enter this stage with just one drink.
You entered the second level of intoxication when your brain started to release endorphins. Your blood alcohol content is within the range of 0.03-0.12. For women, it is roughly after 1-4 drinks and 2-5 drinks for men. This is the stage when you feel euphoric, relaxed, and talkative. Most people referred to it as feeling “tipsy” since it is the stage where your inhibitions started to go down.
After drinking more than five drinks, your blood alcohol level increases to 0.09-0.25, then you are entering the third stage. It is where you begin to experience instability with your emotions, lack of control, slurring of speech, drowsiness, nausea, and looses your critical judgment. It is also the stage when people you are drinking with will notice who’s drunk and who’s not.
You enter this stage when blood alcohol levels increase to 0.18-0.3. The intoxication will start to impact your cerebellum, the area of the brain that controls coordination. At this stage, you will experience disorientation and blackouts and short-term memory loss, and temporary loss of consciousness. People are at higher risk of injury at this level of intoxication since the pain threshold level increases. They will not feel the pain of injury until later when sober.
This level of intoxication can be related to alcohol poisoning. It is when your blood alcohol level reaches 0.25. At this rate, you will experience severe impairment of your sensory functions as well as your mental and physical capabilities.
You will also lose a significant amount of motor function and slows down stimulus responses. This stage requires medical help and attention. If not properly addressed, it could lead to respiratory arrest, arrhythmia, and seizures.
Why Can’t You Stop Drinking?
Are you getting emotional because of the alcohol? Or is it because you’re going through something that you’re trying to hide the pain? Why can’t you stop drinking in the first place? You should really question yourself why you are getting so emotional. Do not use alcohol as an escape to reality. Instead, escape alcohol to face reality.
Have you thought that you’re maybe facing depression? Do you feel like you can benefit from talking to mental health counselor or therapist? It would help if you considered the idea. Because the moment you take action about what’s going on, is the day, you turn your life around. No more drunk weeping nights, only fun and memorable moments. Schedule an online mental health counseling with Kentucky Counseling Center (KCC) now.