MistbornAlpaca

The Effects of Being Drunk

15 posts in this topic

I have a character in this story I'm working on who has a drinking problem. He has been drinking on a regular basis for so long that even after a few days without alcohol, he still can't remember certain events from his past (which is the reason he's drinking) I've never been drunk, or had any alcohol at all for that matter, so I'm pretty clueless when it comes to being drunk. Is this a possible effect of drinking for long enough? Or should I maybe make it a certain additive within the alcohol that causes this effect?

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Some people are devoted enough to their work to do some research. Some people's friends are so supportive they even give away many evenings to help their aspiring author friends do that research.

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@MasterJack Oh, cool. I wondered why you'd never had alcohol, so I checked your profile's birth date, and it turns out I'm actually 5 months and 8 days older than you.

Cool to see I'm not the only 15-year-old with an interest in writing.

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15 hours ago, The Allomantic Metalhead said:

@MasterJack Oh, cool. I wondered why you'd never had alcohol, so I checked your profile's birth date, and it turns out I'm actually 5 months and 8 days older than you.

Cool to see I'm not the only 15-year-old with an interest in writing.

Very cool! I'm also glad to see I'm not the only teenager that likes writing! I'm also LDS, so that would be another reason why I've never had alcohol :D

On 1/30/2018 at 7:50 PM, recneps said:

Some people are devoted enough to their work to do some research. Some people's friends are so supportive they even give away many evenings to help their aspiring author friends do that research.

Sorry, -_-I really could have looked that up, I'm just so used to the great answers you guys have :D  

Thanks, @Ammanas! Very helpful!

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1 hour ago, MasterJack said:

Very cool! I'm also glad to see I'm not the only teenager that likes writing! I'm also LDS, so that would be another reason why I've never had alcohol :D

Sorry, -_-I really could have looked that up, I'm just so used to the great answers you guys have :D  

Thanks, @Ammanas! Very helpful!

@MasterJack I think what recneps was trying to say in his comment was that your question sounds like a good excuse to go out and get smashed (drunk). Thats how I interpret it at least.

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2 hours ago, Ammanas said:

@MasterJack I think what recneps was trying to say in his comment was that your question sounds like a good excuse to go out and get smashed (drunk). Thats how I interpret it at least.

Ahh, that makes much more sense :D Thanks for the clarification!

 

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@MasterJack .. there is a documented effect  which impacts heavy drinkers, its called the Tenth (?) Bar Syndrome or something similar .... it actually refers to a biological process whereby a certain level of inebriation causes the brain to alter its functionality .... the person with this problem cannot remember where he went after his body makes this correction ... that is any bar after ten, and anything else .. like how they got home.

I read this so very long ago, I have no clue where it was written, but it definitely stuck with me. 

So, your drinking character sounds like a VERY interesting item, and a potential entry point for surprises, sub plots, extra characters heretofore not revealed, and lots more!

If you publish, you might want to have the documentation of this phenomina available!   Good luck writing, (et all).

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@MasterJack, when people "drink to forget," they're not actually forgetting anything. Booze can temporarily dull some emotional pain, and distract you from unpleasant thoughts, but it doesn't erase the memories, or prevent you from accessing them. You can easily recall painful memories while drunk, and since your willpower is impaired, you end up dwelling on them even more. This is generally referred to as "maudlin."

If you're really, really drunk, you black out, which means your brain has trouble forming new memories for a few hours. When you sober up, the previous hours will be a blur, and you'll never get them back. But all your memories from before the blackout should be perfectly clear.

So if your character can't remember certain events of his past, he must have been blackout-drunk during those events, which means he will never be able to remember them. If he was sober during those events, and he's temporarily forgetting via self-medication, you'll need to give him something a little stronger than alcohol.

Edited by Belzedar
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On 04/02/2018 at 5:46 AM, Belzedar said:

@MasterJack, when people "drink to forget," they're not actually forgetting anything. Booze can temporarily dull some emotional pain, and distract you from unpleasant thoughts, but it doesn't erase the memories, or prevent you from accessing them. You can easily recall painful memories while drunk, and since your willpower is impaired, you end up dwelling on them even more. This is generally referred to as "maudlin."

If you're really, really drunk, you black out, which means your brain has trouble forming new memories for a few hours. When you sober up, the previous hours will be a blur, and you'll never get them back. But all your memories from before the blackout should be perfectly clear.

So if your character can't remember certain events of his past, he must have been blackout-drunk during those events, which means he will never be able to remember them. If he was sober during those events, and he's temporarily forgetting via self-medication, you'll need to give him something a little stronger than alcohol.

Yup, this is a good assessment. Even if excessive drinking could retrospectively erase parts of your past from memory (which it doesn't), there's no way you could specify which memories would be forgotten, your brain would decide on that for you. Most likely, it would not choose the ones you wanted to forget, but others that you would rather keep!! 

As @Belzedar says, drinking to forget is far more insidious in that, while conning you into thinking it is working (only to discover the next day that the effect isn't permanent), it is also destroying your internal organs and accelerating you to an early grave. However, the drinker will become addicted to that temporary oblivion and, most likely, stop caring about the temporary effects as they spiral towards their own destruction.

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As the author, you just have to convince us that is how it works, and we'll believe you. I think @Belzedar has described the reality of it, but an author can easily sell something that isn't quite true. Take Shallan, as an example (if you've read Stormlight). She has suppressed memories of the sort that probably don't really exist. She just stops herself from thinking about certain things when the line of thought is approaching something she doesn't want to remember.

If your character feels himself getting to close to certain dark memories, and decides to get hammered to take the edge off so he stops introspecting, that works just fine. People won't worry about if the character technically must remember those things in order to block himself.... If it fits the personality of the character, your readers will go with it.

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Thanks for all the advice guys!! I think I'm going to go with a specialty powder that reacts with the alcohol to temporarily erase memories :D

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That's a decent idea. I would believe that, subject to how well it's sold :)

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Medically speaking, a hangover is primarily severe dehydration if you're also writing your character the morning after. The symptoms of dizziness, nausea, and light sensitivity are mostly caused by the lack of water and electrolytes caused by the diuretic quality of the alchohol. The cheaper the booze, the more the additives, the worse the hangover.

 

I hope this helps!

Edited by Sarah B
Typo
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Couple of other thoughts for you to flesh out your character (even if he's using a memory-suppressing additive, cool idea btw, it still sounds like he's a pretty heavy alcoholic)

  • Alcohol-induced psychosis/dementia are definitely things caused by extremely heavy drinking; you may want to look them up
  • If you character drinks heavily and daily, he may develop withdrawal symptoms, such as night sweats and the potentially-lethal delirium tremens (seriously, alcohol is nasty to withdraw from)

From my personal experience with drowning sorrows, it doesn't really work the way it does in movies/cartoons; as others have noted, the depressing memories and thoughts don't go away. Rather, being drunk makes you

  1. More easily distracted from those negative thoughts
  2. Less able to think negative thoughts (as you begin having difficulty thinking in general)
  3. More sociable, which helps you make friends (which may only last the night) to help boost your spirits.

However, being alone, undistracted, drunk, and miserable is actually rather awful, and far worse than being sober and miserable, as the loss of rational thinking makes it impossible to dismiss irrational fears/insecurities, and lack of inhibition makes you far more likely to do something stupid/harmful as a result of your negative feelings. 

Hope that helps!

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