It's a party, it's normal to be excited, a little anxious maybe. Your heartrate is increased due to this. You have just arrived and are surveying the room perhaps looking for familiar faces. As you sip your first drink the alcohol in that drink is getting into your blood stream that little bit faster due to your heart beating that little bit faster.
Other factors are at play which influence how alcohol affects you, maybe also you are a little tired from being so busy and havent eaten properly? This is a perfect recipe for party disaster and alcohol drinks to go straight to your head! Remember, how much you have eaten and how tired you are also influences how alcohol will affect you.
Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach is not wise. What is known as a 'blackout' which is where memory loss is involved is far more likely when drinking on an empty stomach has occurred.
Consider this, you may be thirsty from your travel to the party? So, maybe quench your genuine thirst first! What many of us do is get that first gin & tonic or cold beer in our hand and drink it down fast because we were actually thirsty.
Mostly this is unconscious behaviour that we dont realise we are doing or why we are doing it. If you think about it you will realise how true it is of how people naturally behave and react in social situations.
Alcohol increases Dopamine in the body which is a mood hormone. At least initially it makes people more relaxed, more friendly, chatty and more generous. So this is why it is known as a 'social lubricant.' It is actually this relaxing effect that is a major part of the reason alcohol consumption can become addictive or a 'need' developing.
The festive holiday season and excess go hand in hand for many of us. We end up eating more than we wanted to and those party drinks can really go down fast! It is human psychology that when we are chatting actively we dont notice how fast we are drinking.
Alcohol also directly affects our appetite. There is a reason why bars serve salty snacks for free! Those salty snacks increase your thirst and the alcohol makes you want to eat more snacks. Thats the cycle bartenders know for a fact! You keep eating those salty treats and you will keep wanting to drink more. Simple science.
Whether you are drinking alcohol or not you are very likely to be tempted to eat snacks and food in excess of your normal pattern when in a party situation.
Psychological reasons for this include, appearing animated and involved in the activity in the room, the other is politeness to your host and the other is sheer indulgence!
What studies have shown is that we typically have a limit as to how many times we can say no to an indulgence without giving in to it. One reason is the link between denial and reward. If you are in a pattern of denying and then rewarding yourself, Christmas and New Year will be very difficult for you temptation wise.
That means, you may have said no all day to the temptations in your house but then when offered at a party you will more likely take it because it is a reward for good behaviour. We reward ourselves and tell ourselves we deserve it. Denial of treats builds up to a weakness, be aware of that. Many studies have proven this to be true. See links below.
Some simple awareness and pre planning for self control can help avoid these situations, if you want to this is. This guide has some self care tips to help you plan in advance.
You might think you are too old or set in your ways for peer pressure or temptation. Even if that were true, you are still likely to want to be polite and to want to fit in and also to appear friendly.
So, you see the psychology influencing us is complex? Its very easy in social gatherings to get involved in buying rounds of drinks or to say yes to another one when you are just being polite.
Before you know it you are drinking more than you really want to and handing over large sums of money to the bartender.
You don't need me to remind you about the negative effects of Alcohol. It will affect your mood for good or bad, your cognitive functioning, your behaviour and it will affect your digestion and your appetite and it is very dehydrating.
Perfect combination for stomach upset and a throbbing headache the next day! AKA (also known as) a Hangover!
So, have a drink if you want but do so in moderation and remember you can say no!
It may be a 'social lubricant' but ever wondered why so much confusion can erupt when alcohol is involved? Fights break out, some people cry, suddenly a shy person is flirtatious etc.
The reason is, alcohol affects reasoning. It disrupts our ability to properly interpret the motives of others. It also brings out underlaying anxiety that has been suppressed. This leads to 'social mistakes' or even violence. Our brain, our vision and our bodies literally are not functioning the same under its influence.
Why is that? Its an area of your brain called the Pre Frontal Cortex that gets affected by alcohol consumption which causes the big problems i.e. violence, risky behaviour etc.
A person who even has a moderate consumtion of alcohol will have their reasoning impaired. Thing is, the same area of the brain that is responsible for reasoning is also responsible for handling aggression. This is why drunk people can become more aggressive.
Would you like to know why people get more 'heated up' and flirtatious, more amorous under its influence? There is a chemical in your body thats part of the 'fight or flight' response. Its a chemical thats purpose is for action basically and its called 'Norepinephrine.' Alcohol spikes that chemical and thats why people get sexually primed with its effect, that's basically it.
The point of the season is not excess. It is a season for joy, community, hope for the future and celebration with family, neighbours, friends & colleagues. It is a time to thank and show appreciation for those that are there for you all year around. A smile and a nice word can go a long way. That is essentially what is important this Festive Season. Celebrate happy.
Free Crisis Help & Support
I hope this guide helps, remember if you are suffering from loneliness, anxiety or have addiction or serious relationship issues seek help.
You dont have to suffer alone and can get immediate support. I recommend The Samaritans which is a free crisis support service to call and they are international. Look them up online for their phone number in your location.
I also recommend Alcoholics Anonymous, if your addiction is causing issue this holiday season perhaps consider going to a meeting in your area? The support may help. Al Anon is their connected organisation for those affected by others' drinking. Al Anon and Alcoholics Anonymous are international organisations. Like the Samaritans they are non religious, anonymous and free support services. Take the help if you need it.
Clarity Therapy is a psychotherapy service which is online, over the phone and office based. See the links below to follow on social media or for more information.
Relevant Links & Resources to this article:
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/you-illuminated/201006/your-brain-alcohol - what happens to your brain on alcohol
www.livescience.com/15138-stress-alcohol-effects.html www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110715163216.htm- Two links discusssing a 2011 study on how alcohol interacts with stress hormones.
https://www.drugrehab.com/addiction/alcohol/social-situations/ - very interesting article used as a reference when writing this. Please see the 'view sources' at the end of the article to find links to the various studies and research mentioned in the article.
https://www.aa-intergroup.org/ - Alcoholics online group and links for further support
https://al-anon.org/ - Al - Anon is for people affected by anothers' drinking.
https://www.samaritans.org/ - The Samaritans are international including Spain and the USA but here is a link to the Samaritans UK& Ireland page.
https://www.livescience.com/10556-temptation-harder-resist-study-suggests.html - article about a study on saying no to temptation in social situations.
https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/resisting-temptation - fascinating article mentioning many studies on temptation. Read the 'flex your muscles' section particularly.