Mar 9th, 2021, 01:56 PM

Drunk Science

By Thalia Weissman
Image Credit: Adam Wilson on Unsplash
A look into the science behind having too much fun

Ever heard of the expression, "liquor to beer you're in the clear, switching liquor will make you sicker"? I had not heard this expression before, so when I went to Barcelona with my family on vacation I made the fatal mistake of switching from wine to sangria (in all fairness, I was not aware the sangria had brandy in it) and therefore the night did not end well. I got so drunk I Facetimed the guy who had been my boyfriend for one week and proceeded to leave him on the phone as I threw up. My mom became friends with the cleaning service people after the mess I had made that night in my and my sister's hotel room. If I only I had known right? But I was 18, so getting drunk was inevitable. It seems that as university students, getting drunk is a right of passage to becoming mature adults. But I got curious about what the science is behind being drunk. What does it mean to be drunk, and what exactly causes those horrible consequences called a hangover? 

Image Credit: "My Drunk Cat" by Ibrahim Owais is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Surprise, surprise, that was not the last time I got drunk. I was at home with my family last summer and my mom and I thought it would be fun to drink prosecco. What I did not realize was that wine still gets you drunk, even if it feels like half of it is just purely air. Fizzy alcohol hits you quicker than other liquor because the bubbles in the alcohol creates a pressure in your stomach that sends the alcohol into your bloodstream faster. Not just that, but drinking on an empty stomach is not a good move. Alcohol is like a poison that your body is trying to break down and remove. Therefore, if your stomach has no food in it, that is one less obstacle for this poison to pass through into the bloodstream. Carbohydrates specifically are good to have before consuming alcohol as they delay the process of breaking down the alcohol. So note to self: EAT CARBS BEFORE DRINKING!!! As humans have large quantities of water within them, the alcohol therefore is able to pass through via your tissues to get to your heart, brain, lungs and all that good stuff. Alcohol is not something to be messed with, she will get you. 

Image Credit: "Hangover" by Leo P. Hidalgo (@yompyz) is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

So if I eat some bread then drink it may help prevent the effects of this "poison" called alcohol, right? But alas, I am 19 and bound to be stupid once again. Not too long ago, I once again made the mistake of switching my liquors! Barcelona taught me nothing. Unlike in Barcelona where by a miracle I did not get a hangover, this most recent liquor switcher did not end the same. For the first time in my life I was hungover! I wanted to cry but there weren't enough fluids inside of me. After experiencing my first hangover I became curious as to what the science behind my consequences were. Unfortunately there is no magic equation for how much to drink + what to eat = no hangover. As much as they suck, they will go away on their own time. This unpleasant aftermath of hangover symptoms are caused when your blood alcohol content takes a steep downward spike or reaches near zero. Each hangover is like a snowflake, no two are the same. It could also depend on what you did to get said hangover. Various factors can contribute to a hangover such as the following: excessive use of the bathroom, your immune system getting involved to fight off the alcohol, your stomach acid levels rising, your blood vessels expanding, and lastly the alcohol disturbing your REM sleep. Sadly, there is no cure for a hangover. As I have only been hungover once I am not qualified to give advice on how to help, but I found that taking a hot shower, eating Five Guys, and drinking coconut water helped. The internet will tell you there are many symptoms to hangovers, but the biggest one I found was the cringing at the dumb things I did while drunk such as texting my crush weird stuff. 

Please attempt to drink responsibly. It is hard, I know from experience. But don't beat yourself up for getting drunk or hungover. It happens to us all and we learn. 30 years from now I hope my mom and I can laugh about the mess I made in Barcelona.