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Drinking Habits

What Does Being Drunk Feel Like

October 26, 2023
8 min read
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Written by
Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
October 26, 2023
8 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
October 26, 2023
8 min read
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
October 26, 2023
8 min read
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Reframe Content Team
October 26, 2023
8 min read

Ever had one of those nights? You're all ready for a Netflix binge, in your coziest pajamas, a mountain of snacks within arm's reach, when you think, "Hey, a glass of wine would be perfect right now." Before you know it, one glass turns into two, then three, then — whoops! There goes the whole bottle. The night that was meant to be filled with cliffhanging plot twists turns into blurry mumblings as you stumble off to bed.

What just happened? How did your night go from Stranger Things to strange feelings in your stomach and scattered thoughts in your mind? Well, brace yourself as we dive into the somewhat squiffy world of alcohol and explore what being drunk really feels like. 

To the Brain and Beyond

Alcohol might seem like a friendly social lubricant, but it's a sneaky one, quietly infiltrating our brain and bodily systems. Its first stop is the central nervous system — the brain — command central for all our actions, thoughts, and feelings.

As alcohol swoops into the brain, it starts cozying up to your neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers in charge of regulating our mental states. The alcohol has two favorites: glutamate and GABA. Glutamate is the brain's go-getter that speeds up brain activity, while GABA is the chill one that slows things down.

Now, alcohol decides to play a game of switcheroo. It suppresses the go-getter glutamate and gives the chill GABA a boost. The world starts to spin, our movements become sluggish, and that elusive word on the tip of the tongue pulls a disappearing act.

Oh, Look! I'm a Social Butterfly

Ever noticed how after a drink or two, you become the life of the party, cracking jokes, and chatting up everyone, even that cute barista who makes you tongue-tied? That's the alcohol tickling your brain's reward system. It boosts levels of dopamine, the feel-good chemical that gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling that “all is well” in the world no matter what’s actually going on around you.

It's a great feeling, right? But remember, it's a borrowed high. The joy, the confidence, the lowered inhibitions — that’s all the alcohol talking.

Stumbling Through the Maze

Alcohol, master of disguise that it is, can make us feel invincible. Suddenly, you're an incredible dancer or the world's most hilarious stand-up comedian. But alcohol isn't just a fairy godmother granting wishes. It's also causing the brain to struggle with basic motor skills.

Walking straight becomes an Olympic event. A sentence seems like an uncrackable code. Coordination takes a hike — and that's when accidents happen. Think about the number of times you've woken up with inexplicable bruises or an unrecalled stumble: those are all thanks to our good friend, alcohol.

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The Morning After

Alcohol's mischief doesn't end when we hit the sack. It continues its rampage throughout the body, disturbing the sleep cycle, causing dehydration, and wreaking havoc in the stomach. The next day, we’re left with a pounding headache, Sahara Desert-level thirst, and a stomach performing its own version of the Riverdance.

So, there it is: the unglamorous truth behind a night of drinking. It's not all laughter and dance-offs. It's messing with your brain, your body, and your life.

But the good news is, it's never too late to cut back or quit alcohol. Here are some actionable steps to help you on your journey:

  • Start small. Begin by setting achievable goals like "no drinking during the week" or "only one drink per outing."
  • Find alternatives. Instead of reaching for a beer while watching the game, try a non-alcoholic beer or a flavored water.
  • Talk about it. Tell your friends and family about your decision. They'll provide a great support system.
  • Seek professional help. If you're finding it hard to quit or cut back, don't hesitate to seek professional help. Numerous resources and support groups are available to help you through it.
  • Reward yourself. Set milestones and reward yourself when you reach them. The rewards could be anything from a new book to a vacation.

Remember, everyone's journey with alcohol is unique, and there's no one-size-fits-all solution. But every step you take towards cutting back or quitting is a step towards a healthier, happier you. So, next time you're in your comfy pajamas, ready for a Netflix night, reach for a mug of hot chocolate instead. Your brain and body will thank you!

Ready To Change Your Relationship With Alcohol? Reframe Is Here To Help!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol.

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

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At Reframe, we do science, not stigma. We base our articles on the latest peer-reviewed research in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science. We follow the Reframe Content Creation Guidelines, to ensure that we share accurate and actionable information with our readers. This aids them in making informed decisions on their wellness journey.
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