Social Question

Mariah's avatar

What do you think of this situation (alcohol and partying)?

Asked by Mariah (19264 points ) December 2nd, 2012

I feel really weird even talking about this, but here goes:

Ever since I’ve been physically able to drink (as in I’m not on medication that will shut down my liver), I have been doing so, very infrequently, in the company of good friends. To put it into perspective I stopped that medication over a year ago and I have been drunk five times in my life. I think that’s extremely reasonable. It’s something new I can do, and I take pleasure in doing it, but it’s not running my life. I have never thrown up, blacked out, or had a hangover. The worst is I have forgotten some details of a night of drinking.

I don’t think it comes across accurately though. Though it may not always appear to be true here on Fluther, I am a very bubbly and enthusiastic person. This gets multiplied almost immediately when I drink. I feel this makes me appear drunker than I really am. I have had people try to cut me off when I am just mildly buzzed before. I also get very eager about drinking, as I think it’s very fun and it’s still a novel experience for me, and I just can’t get over the fact that I can get away with doing things like that now. I think my excitement about it also makes me come across strangely.

Two nights ago I took it a little too far for the first time. I feel that is pretty normal for someone who is still learning her limits. I took one shot too many and learned that past a certain point, I stop being a happy drunk and start having existential crises. I cried for several hours and my poor boyfriend, who is a non-drinker but usually doesn’t mind me getting drunk, had to deal with me. I still didn’t throw up or have a hangover the next morning though.

Now people are acting very strangely about what happened. The friend whose apartment I was at actually told me yesterday that he thinks I’m an alcoholic. My boyfriend had a talk with me about how he gets worried about me when I drink. He just won’t let go of what happened even though I have told him a hundred times that I do not want to get that drunk again, and I have learned my limit, and I will not drink past it anymore. I don’t understand, because tons and tons of people drink in college, puke all over the place, and yet it’s fine, it’s just college life, but when I drink, for some reason everyone thinks it’s a huge fucking deal.

Part of me feels everyone is blowing things way out of proportion, the other part of me is letting them get to me. The fact that I even feel the need to ask this question has me feeling weird, because I’ve always heard that if you have to ask, it’s a problem. I don’t want to stop drinking, but only because it’s fun and I’m enjoying myself. Is that really a problem? Jellies, you guys know me pretty well by now. I would appreciate your thoughts a lot. Thanks.

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24 Answers

bookish1's avatar

I don’t know you very well at all, @Mariah, but if this is something that is troubling you, good for your for seeking input on it.
What sort of age range are you and your peers in? Your behavior (having an existential crisis and crying for hours) is strongly reminiscent of how American teenagers act when they are learning to drink (sometimes in high school but usually around college age).

From the way you put it, it does sound like people are blowing things out of proportion. Have you ever explained things to your boyfriend or friends like you have explained it here right now? That drinking is still a novelty and an adventure for you, since you were unable to for so long, and that therefore you are still learning what works for you and feeling out your limits?

Just because you had one bad experience with drinking does not necessarily mean that you have a problem. What’s more, plenty of alcoholics (I have known many) do not have emotional experiences like that when they drink. But it sounds like your excitement/giddy response to being able to drink, coupled with still being in the phase where you’re learning your limits well past the age when most people already have, is misleading your friends. The problem is that once people start thinking you’re an alcoholic, their perceptions will just be confirmed if you deny it. But if these people are your friends, they should trust you and take your word if you sit down and explain these things to them sincerely. Good luck.

Coloma's avatar

I think it merits paying attention to.
Alcohol only enhances whatever emotions or issues one has. Be it happiness, anger, maudlin angst, depression, etc. It does not CAUSE these emotions, it teases them out by lowering ones inhibitions.
I am naturally an upbeat and enthusiastic and humorous personality so alcohol just makes me even funnier and more enthusiastic.

I don’t have any hidden anger issues or unhealed emotional problems that might tend to squeeze out when drinking.
Alcohol only magnifies the state of mind and qualities already there.
I would not beat yourself up for this episode too badly, everyone usually has at least one drinking horror story in their partying portfolios but, if you find that this becomes a reoccurring theme when you drink, probably best to just not.

hearkat's avatar

In my experience, alcohol affects everyone differently. When I was younger and thinner, I could drink a whole lot more than I could now that I’m older and 100 pounds heavier. On a breathalyzer, the blood-alcohol score would be lower now because of my weight, but in terms of the changes in my ability to function, I am done after two drinks. The reason for this is tolerance. I used to drink regularly and I did exceed my limits many times, although I was never a habitual user. Now I rarely drink, so I feel a buzz halfway through the first one and get giddy soon thereafter.

Conversely, my ex-husband was an alcoholic child of two alcoholic parents. As such, I told my son from a very young age that he was also at high risk for alcoholism. When he would get stressed out in his teen years, he would say that he felt like he wanted a drink, even though he had never had one. Now he’s over 21 and has been drinking for a couple years. I worry about him, but I can not control him. We talk about it from time-to-time, but I still know that he is at risk, and I try to encourage him to go back on prescription medication for his anxiety and depression, rather than self-medication with booze and smoke. But he must make his own choices and I know that if I nag or get pushy, he’ll resent and avoid me, so I try to stay supportive and say me piece every once in a while.

I don’t really know you, so I can’t address your question as personally as you might like. First of all, take your friends’ and boyfriend’s concerns as just that – concern from people who care about you. Secondly, consider that your body may well metabolize alcohol differently because of whatever condition you were taking the medication for and because of the long-term effects following that condition and the medication. Then also consider your family history, as well as your personal history regarding mental-health and mood issues.

Just because you haven’t felt sick from drinking doesn’t mean that you haven’t exceeded reasonable limits. If your friends are concerned, it appears that you may have. If you choose to continue drinking, slow your pace, and alternated alcoholic drinks with a glass of water in-between. This helps your body stay hydrated and flush the alcohol through your liver and kidneys better, in addition to pacing your consumption. That way, you can maintain a bubbly-buzz without pushing the boundaries or a mood crash. It’s also a heck of a lot cheaper!

Good luck!

LuckyGuy's avatar

After you asked that Eigenvalues question I knew a lot about you.
Take your friends’ concerns as compliments. You see that drunk guy puking over there in the corner? Know why your friends say anything about him? They don’t care about him like they do about you. They think he’s a jerk and will likely not be in school next year. Your friends care. And, by the way, your non drinking BF is a pretty special guy. Don’t blow it.

If you want to get past this issue stop talking about it and start acting upon it. Don’t get stupid. Don’t start calling out how wonderful it is or how different you feel, or that you feel high or down or… Stop. Stop talking about it and just act better. After a while, they will begin to trust that you can handle it and will stop worrying.
Remember. They all care about you. That is the take-away message. You are lucky to have people like that around you. Stay worthy of their kindness.

CWOTUS's avatar

I was going to say something, but then I read what @LuckyGuy said, and forgot entirely anything else I had to add. I got nothing better than that.

JLeslie's avatar

Actually, people are talking about all the people who get drunk all the time, they are not picking on you specifically most likely. Their close friends might have warned them also that they seem to drink too much or not handle their liquor well. You might be unaware of those conversations because you were not in on them.

You said you have only been drunk a handful of times, my question would be how often do you drink? I think you should take their feedback to heart that the way you react to the alcohol seems possibly extreme. It sounds like you do. I would not worry about feeling wierd around them, if you don’t get that drunk again their worries will go away and their assumptions will be proven wrong. Remember, you are much lower weight than most of the people you hang out with, so you most likely get drunk off of much less booze than them. I bet many of them way 50% more than you. That means 3 drinks for them would be like 2 for you.

Most of them probably started drinking in jr. high and high school, and they probably talked about it like you have been, just part of being a new drinker.

I always say my husband is a stupid drunk. He gets silly, and smiley, a little hyper, and says stupid things. He rarely drinks, and when he does he has one. The other day he had two beers and started to piss me off with how he behaved. My exboyfriend I used to say was a happy drunk. He would smile and laugh and want to have sex and then fall asleep before it ever happened. LOL. Then I have known people who are angry drunks, the whole temper thing is seriously not ok. Each person reacts differently. I have one friend who happens to be a very bad alcoholic who becomes very emotional when she gets very drunk, but it is because she reaches for alcohol when she feels extremely insecure or hurt. It doesn’t seem to me you are doing that, it seems to me you want to party and not trying to bury some painful emotion. If you were trying to avoid dealing with feeling badly then I would be very concerned.

gailcalled's avatar

My experience is limited, not being a drinker myself, and not having family or close friends who do.

But the most serious alcoholic I knew never appeared drunk or even slightly out-of-control. Alcohol did, however, seem to be the driving force of her life.

She was a serious and ranked senior women’s tennis player and skier. She always made sure she had a thermos of bloody Mary’s with her. She was also a serious hiker in the Adirondack High Peaks. Again, to celebrate arriving at the summit, she brought out her thermos, with good cheer and no effort to conceal.

She mentioned to me on several occasions that both her parents were very heavy drinking partners; it caught up to them as they aged and they both had bad deaths. This did not deter her.

So, perhaps one question to ask yourself is how preoccupied with drinking are you? How often during the course of a day do you think about having a drink and when you can have it?

If you skip several days, do you look forward to the end of the ban?

Your boyfriend’s concern is something to pay attention to.

Sunny2's avatar

You have an excellent brain, as you know. Alcohol can damage brain cells. I wish I had back the cells I destroyed by drinking. It might be good to appreciate your bubbly self without the need for spirits. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a brain and a buoyant personality.

DominicX's avatar

I think they were singling out your drinking because your reaction was unusual and troubling. Sure, other people drink more and they puke all over the place, but they don’t have existential crises and cry excessively—that’s worrying to anybody. But like @Coloma said, alcohol doesn’t change who you are, it just brings out what’s already there. Maybe there are some people for whom mixing alcohol with their pre-existing mental state would be a volatile combination and I always make sure to not drink if I’m in a bad mood.

marinelife's avatar

I can see how you like it, but let’s put that analytical brain of yours to work. Is the fun really that much more fun when you are drunk? Do you really enjoy drinking when your boyfriend isn’t?

If you’ve been drunk five times then you now know what it’s like. Shouldn’t the thrill be wearing off?

bob_'s avatar

Tell everyone to stop being a bitch. Cheers!

zenvelo's avatar

@Mariah The thing about alcoholism and drinking issues is that it is something only you can answer, but you might want to keep a few things in mind.

1. People without drinking issues don’t ever arrive at a place where they wonder about their drinking being an issue.

2. Forgetting “details” is a form of blackout (many alcoholics call it a “brownout”). It seems you have gone on to a full blackout in your latest episode.

3. The curious thing about alcoholic or abusive drinking is that regular drinkers do not have to “know” their limit, they know from how they feel to not have another drink or to slow down. People who are alcoholic or abusing alcohol feel the need to “control” their drinking, but that control is illusive.

3. If this happened two nights ago, how could you have told your boyfriend a hundred times this won’t happen again? This seems like a defensive reaction to someone who is willing to talk to you about it.

And don’t compare your own experience to those who have a “college drinking” experience. That’s not quite the comparison to use to judge your own behavior.

So think about it, and choose your path. Perhaps talk to a counselor at your school’s med center.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I’ve got one more point that might be worth mentioning. When I was in college I watched how others behaved when they drank. I considered that a data point for me. Based upon the woman’s behavior I made decisions like whether I was interested in her as a long term partner or for short term sex. If I had to worry about being with someone when they were drinking I would try not to associate with them again. (I do drink occasionally by the way.)

I once cold-cocked a guy because he was being a “happy drunk” and started to pour his beer into someone’s upturned motorcycle helmet. At the time we were walking on a city street in a repressive foreign country. Even though I was sober just being with that jerk could have had me arrested. His behavior reflected upon me and the 2 other guys with us. I did not need nor want the burden. That was the last time he and I ever spoke. He was not worth it.
As a footnote, the other two guys fully agreed with me but neither one was able to react as quickly and decisively. Not one drop of the beer got in the helmet.

nikipedia's avatar

Not to minimize the risks of alcohol, but from what you’ve said here it sounds like your friend and boyfriend are seriously overreacting. Have they had much exposure to drinking? In my experience in college, people tended to divide themselves into extremes—people who were comfortable with drinking often did it to excess, and people who were uncomfortable with it avoided it and had a tendency to be harshly judgmental of those who drank. A middle ground tends to develop with more life experience.

By all means, stay cautious and aware of your drinking. But there is no reason to let other people decide what your boundaries are for yourself.

tups's avatar

Based on the information you gave right here, you are definitely not anything close to an alcoholic. You’re merely young and of course you want to try things. It’s normal to not know your limits when it comes to drinking and drink too much. You haven’t had blackouts or hangovers, so it really doesn’t sounds serious at all. Now you’ve learned that after a certain limit it does not feel great to be drunk, good, then you know that about yourself. Nothing bad happened, so now you have an advantage. You’ve tried drinking too much without serious consequences. That’s good.

I think that people in the US in general are much quicker to declare someone and alcoholic that in Europe, but I would definitely not say that this is something serious. Just make the best of this experience and keep on having fun!

ninjacolin's avatar

Some people get on their high horse and won’t give up on trying to reach some breakdown point where you confess: “okay okay it’s true I’m a horrible person save me!!” it’s a bit of a superiority complex but it’s often fueld by their own insecurities of not being able to handle alcohol or whateever it is they happen to be complaining about.

May or may not the case for you.. So look out for that.

flutherother's avatar

You’ve told me enough for me to be concerned. You say you are very eager about drinking and that those closest to you get worried when you drink. I have to tell you that these are distinct warning signs. Just be careful.

hug_of_war's avatar

Is it possible it is more fun for you to drink than for others to be around you drunk? What I mean is, your perception of how you are in an altered state is not necesarily how others see it. Sometimes being around a drunk person, even a happy one, can be a bit of a draining situation. I also wonder about your age. Maybe other people experimented when they were younger and your eagerness to drink is a little offputting because others your age have moved past that stage.

Your behavior could also be embarrassing to your boyfriend and friends. If you see someone acts that way when they drink, you might shy away from being around them when they do drink. Is everyone around you having as much fun? Or is the fact you’re drunk making it seem that way?

Mariah's avatar

@all, thanks for your input. I wish I had more time but I’m going to try to respond to everybody.

@bookish1 I am 20, my boyfriend is 20, my friend with the apartment is probably 21, maybe 22. My boyfriend knows everything I have been through in life and understands that drinking is, for me, something new and exciting and that it’s honestly wonderful that I can behave in a suboptimally healthy manner and still be okay, which is completely different from my past. I used to have to be so uptight about everything… The other friend knows less. Maybe if the subject comes up again (I feel it would just seem overly defensive to just bring it up) I will talk about that with him. Thanks for the advice.

@Coloma Oh, I know the emotions were concerning. My life has a very painful component to it that I have learned how to seal away. I am not bottling it up by any means, but I have learned how to not let it affect me as badly in my daily life. Mainly through a lot of therapy (which yes, I am still getting). Apparently those coping skills wash away when I’m drunk and it all comes out. Many of my friends here still don’t know my medical history, and what often happens is I end up telling them when I’m drunk. It’s okay – I am not trying to keep it secret or anything. But that’s where the upset is coming from for sure. I always have it in me, but I guess when I drink the locks on that chamber fall off. But only if I get too drunk. Usually I am a very happy, fun drunk.

@hearkat I am very small and thin which makes it harder to not overdo it, definitely. I’ve learned now that a single drink can be the difference between fine and crying. So I know now to go a bit slower. I do know to drink a lot of water (I always drink a lot of water because of my health problems) and I think that might have something to do with how immune to hangovers I am.

@LuckyGuy I know my friends are wonderful. I came off really bitter in my writing here, but truly I love the hell out of them. I think my one friend who called me an alcoholic may have been projecting a bit. He confided that he got addicted to gambling after trying it only twice. I’m sure everybody is just concerned like you said…I just don’t like being told what to or to not do, even if the adviser is just looking out for my well-being.

@JLeslie I’ve been drunk 5 times in the year since I quit my medication. Most (3) of those times being pretty recently. For the entire first quarter of school I didn’t party because I know my boyfriend doesn’t want to and I felt weird about getting drunk without him. And I assumed he wouldn’t want to be around me drunk. But this quarter after telling him how silly I am drunk, he made the “mistake” (I guess) of telling me he actually did want to see me tipsy, and I realized that things were different than what I had thought. So since then I have gotten drunk three times, which means I guess about every other weekend this quarter. And yeah…being skinny makes things harder for sure. I’ll just go slower next time.

@gailcalled Admittedly, if I know drinking will be happening in the coming weekend, I do find myself looking forward to it. I feel like that is the natural reaction to anything somebody finds fun though?

Thanks @Sunny2. I don’t want to harm my brain either, which is why I have no interest in going overboard. This most recent time happened accidentally (I know I should have been more careful) and now that I understand that is my limit I have no desire to do it again.

Hiiii @DominicX :) It was a weird reaction for sure. Probably because I have things to worry about pretty much constantly in my life. I am quite good at suppressing worries these days but apparently less good when I’m too drunk. I’ll stick to happy-level of drunk in the future.

@marinelife It really is very fun, what should I say? I don’t know why, but it is. It doesn’t bother me that my boyfriend doesn’t get drunk too, it’s his choice, but drinking is also mine and I don’t feel I have to conform my life choices to his. As long as he doesn’t seem annoyed that I’m drunk (and he usually doesn’t – obviously he was when he had to take care of me the other night), then it doesn’t bother me.

@zenvelo 1. But I worry about everything always, to a pretty ridiculous degree. I think it’s expected of me to worry about becoming addicted as soon as I start drinking. That’s just how my brain works. 2. No, I did not have a full on blackout during the latest episode. I remember all the crying and whatnot. I suppose I have had some brownouts, but I forget details when I’m sober too, so I dunno. 3. I am really skinny so the last drink pushed me from pretty damn okay to not okay. I didn’t realize a single drink was going to make such a huge difference, I guess from my lack of experience. 4. “A hundred” was obviously an exaggeration, but he just keeps bringing it up, and I don’t understand why since I already did tell him during each previous talk that I have no plans or desire to drink that much ever again.

@LuckyGuy So what, I’m supposed to make my life choices based on what it will make other people think of me? I understand your point, I don’t want to invite disrespect, but this is my life. If I made all my decisions based on how it would affect my reputation, I wouldn’t love eigenvectors as much as I do.

@nikipedia @tups I don’t know if it’s just me getting defensive, but I honestly agree with you.

@ninjacolin I don’t think that’s what my friends are doing, but I do think they are overreacting.

@flutherother I will.

@hug_of_war No that is not what is happening. I have been told by quite a few people that I am a super fun drunk, and even during the other night my one friend was keeping a list of hilarious me-isms that we later read over and laughed about. I am 20, and yes I am sure other people are way past finding it as exciting. I was unable to partake for so long because of my health.

janbb's avatar

@Mariah You have always struck me as a very mature person and I can understand why you have wanted to have some fun when your medical problems have allowed you to. I don’t really know you or your drinking but I can’t imagine that you are on the verge of being an alcoholic. If I were you though, I would decide on the number of drinks that are fun for you to have and not go over them. I also always used to tell my sons that if they thought they might be starting to have a problem with drinking, to stay off it for two or three weeks and see if they craved it. If so, then you have a problem.

JLeslie's avatar

@Mariah It really does not sound to me like you have a drinking problem. You reminded me that your boyfriend does not drink, whoch means most likely he will have a very low tolerance for “drunk” behavior. I don’t drink, and would not deal well with an SO drinking with any regularity, especially if he had a bad reaction to the alcohol. Although, in college I was more tolerant of it for sure, because it is so much the culture in school. But, it is important to me that people don’t have to drink to have a good time. I realize you only had this one bad instance, so I prefer not to dwell on it, you shouldn’t either, who knows what happened that night exactly. If it is a general pattern you act very unlike yourself when you drink, then that is a different story. I will warn this, just because you remember well, does not mean you really understand how you look to other while drunk. Think about someone with a bad temper who finally sees a video of themselves and sees how bad he really looks, that sort of thing.

I believe you to be an extremely level headed person, just this question shows you want to know, you don’t want to be in denial, and you can take feedback, suggestions, and criticism. I doubt you have a any sort of real problem.

@LuckyGuy I already was giddy from the timing of the turkey, and now this story about you doing something about this guy who was going to vandalize property. Thank goodness my husband is the same type of stand up analytical guy.

FutureMemory's avatar

One thing to consider is that most young people don’t wait til college to begin ‘partying’ – many kids get their start in high school, so by the time they’re your age they’ve already gone through those first stages of learning how to drink. They’ve got a few years under their belt, they know their limits probably better than you know yours, etc etc. That might be worth mentioning to your friends, that you’re still in that initial learning stage, and it would be unrealistic to not expect a few bumps in the road as you go along.

Go easy on your boyfriend and your other friends. They care about you. Be glad they do so.

deni's avatar

It seems to me like these people are just watching out for you, but they’re trying to do too much. And it’s probably because they are used to you not being a drinker. The idea is a good one, they’re being good friends, but they’re not giving you your space and letting you do your own thing. Many people have a stage around this age where they drink too much. What you’re describing about getting too drunk and becoming negative and sad rather than enthusiastic like you usually are when you’re drunk (same here) is also normal and hey shit happens! Umm, so I don’t know. I have kind of had this experience, it was my best friend who was also my roommate and this happened just this past summer. He told me he couldn’t watch me get so drunk anymore and for the most part I took it as a compliment he was watching out for me and it was for my well being. At the same time, if it would have been anyone else, I would have said, you need to back the hell off. It’s a really fine line talking to someone about their drinking. They’re blowing it out of proportion, the friend that said you’re an alcoholic clearly has never met an alcoholic and is crazy for having the balls to say that to you! You should not worry about this.

Mariah's avatar

I figure you fine folks deserve an update. I got drunk on Friday night and the same friend who called me an alcoholic before was the provider of the booze, so I’m thinking he wasn’t completely being serious before. He really likes to yank my chain for some reason. I feel like he wouldn’t give me alcohol if he seriously thought I had a problem with it. He was pleased as punch to get to see me drunk again because I guess I’m really funny.

I stopped at a reasonable level and stayed in the happy zone. My boyfriend was present again and he told me he was very happy with me for going slower this time. I am pleased that he looks at things this way despite being a nondrinker himself, and that he didn’t just decide after last week that he didn’t want to tolerate me getting drunk anymore.

I didn’t drink enough water during the night, which is unusual for me. I guess that’s why even though I got far less drunk than last week, I had my first hangover this morning. It was pretty mild, just some nausea when I first got up.

I’m going home for Christmas break very soon and will be home for almost a month. I don’t foresee any shenanigans happening during that month and I’m fine with that, so I figure that’s the right sign. I will be having a different kind of fun at home, a calmer kind, which is honestly well needed right now. I’m looking forward to that.

Thanks for everything, guys.

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