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Are Drunk Words Really Sober Thoughts? 

Alcohol is the most widely used drug in the world, and in the United States alone, excessive alcohol use is responsible for about 88,000 deaths annually, according to the CDC. With this in mind, why do so many people drink? Why is alcohol legal at all?

The explanation is simple: The alcohol industry lobbies like no other. Every year, the alcohol industry spends $1 to $2 billion trying to convince people that drinking is fun, cool, normal, and, most importantly, harmless. While drinking can be relatively harmless for some, it can be devastating and even fatal for others.

Alcohol lowers inhibitions, making it an excellent catalyst for socialization and making friends. Unfortunately, it can also be a great catalyst for making a complete and utter fool out of yourself. Anyone who has overindulged in booze on Saturday has probably made an apology or two on Sunday.

Are Drunk Words Really Sober Thoughts

People like to say that drunk words are sober thoughts. This old adage implies that the things people say when they’re drunk, however crass, rude, or vile, are indicative of their actual thoughts and feelings.

Is it true? Does alcohol act as a kind of truth serum? The reality is that it’s not quite that simple. While alcohol can cause people to blurt out things they believe but would normally repress, sometimes drunk talk is just nonsense.

Here’s an overview of what experts know about the short- and long-term effects of consuming alcohol:

Short-Term Effects of Drinking Alcohol

Lowered Inhibitions

Inhibitions refer to inner impediments to free activity; in other words, they’re filters and a necessary part of a functioning society. If everyone ran around doing and saying the first thing that popped into their heads, chaos would quickly ensue. Ethanol, the psychoactive component that gets people drunk, temporarily lowers these inhibitions, which is why people often quip that drunk words are sober thoughts.

In some circumstances, the lowering of inhibitions can be a good thing. Shy people can come out of their shells a bit and be less self-conscious. On the other hand, lowering inhibitions can cause people to be rude, obnoxious, politically incorrect, and even violent.

Blacking Out

Blacking out refers to drinking to the point of short-term memory loss. The scary part about this is that people who are blackout drunk can often still function relatively normally. They can walk, engage with others and even drive or operate machinery. This temporary memory loss can be partial, but it can also be complete; it’s not unusual for someone who blacks out to remember nothing.

Many people who get blackout drunk are horrified when they learn about their previous day’s actions, and a good number of them wake up in jail.

Loss of Coordination

Alcohol affects GABA, one of the brain’s neurotransmitters. This slows people’s reaction times and makes them clumsy. When people drink enough, walking or even standing can be nearly impossible.

Increased Blood Pressure

Excessive alcohol consumption temporarily raises blood pressure, which isn’t that big of a deal. Repeated binge drinking, which is defined as drinking four drinks within two hours for women and five drinks within two hours for men, can lead to long-term increases in blood pressure.

Long-term high blood pressure increases the risk of stroke and other cardiovascular conditions. Additionally, alcohol contains a lot of calories. This often leads to weight gain, increasing the risk of high blood pressure.

Lower Body Temperature

Alcohol widens blood vessels, which makes more blood flow to the skin. This makes drinkers feel warm, but it’s only temporary; the extra heat dissipates quickly, and this is why drinking alcohol is not an effective way to prevent hypothermia.

Other short-term effects of drinking alcohol include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Vomiting
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating

Long-Term Effects of Drinking Alcohol

People who drink alcohol to excess over a long period of time are at risk of the following conditions:

Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

When the liver processes alcohol, it also creates a toxic compound called acetaldehyde, a known carcinogen. Over time, this substance damages liver cells causes inflammation and weakens the body’s immune system. Fatty liver disease is the first stage of liver disease caused by alcohol and can eventually advance to alcoholic hepatitis and, eventually, cirrhosis.

Alcoholic Hepatitis

Alcoholic hepatitis is the second stage of liver disease, and it’s serious. Symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Low-grade fever
  • Tenderness in the abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness and fatigue

Alcoholic hepatitis can be fatal, especially for those who continue to drink. People with alcoholic hepatitis risk developing cirrhosis, the final stage of liver disease.

Cirrhosis

The liver is damaged and attempts to repair itself whenever people drink to excess. This repair process causes scarring, also called fibrosis, and over time, the buildup of scar tissue impairs the liver’s ability to function properly. Some symptoms of cirrhosis include:

  • Bleeding or bruising more easily
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes or skin)
  • Confusion
  • Itching
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling of the legs, ankles, or feet
  • A buildup of fluid in the abdomen

Liver damage caused by cirrhosis is almost always permanent, but it can be slowed or stopped when treating the underlying cause.

Cardiomyopathy

People who drink heavily over many years can develop cardiomyopathy, a heart muscle disease that impairs its ability to pump blood through the body. The main symptoms are shortness of breath, coughing or difficulty sleeping when lying flat, pressure or discomfort in the chest, and a pounding, fluttering or rapid heartbeat.

Cardiomyopathy is generally mild at first, but it gets worse over time. Depending on the type and severity, cardiomyopathy can be life-threatening.

Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol use disorder, more commonly referred to as alcoholism, describes a pattern of problematic alcohol consumption. Because more than half of all Americans consume at least one drink per day, it can be difficult to determine whether someone’s drinking constitutes a clinically-significant problem. To help remedy this, the DSM-5 identifies 11 factors that constitute problem drinking:

  1. Drinking more or for longer than intended.
  2. Repeated failed attempts to stop drinking
  3. Spending a lot of time drinking alcohol or recovering from its effects
  4. Strong urges to drink
  5. Failing to fulfill major responsibilities (work, school, relationships, etc.)
  6. Drinking when it could be dangerous, such as when driving or operating machinery
  7. Experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms
  8. Foregoing activities one used to enjoy in order to drink
  9. Needing more alcohol to achieve the desired effects
  10. Drinking even though it’s making physical or psychological conditions worse
  11. Continuing to drink even though it’s damaging personal relationships

Alcoholism is considered mild, moderate, or severe depending on how many of the above factors a person experiences in a 12-month period.


What To Do if You Think You Have a Problem

1. Be Honest With Yourself

It may sound cliche, but admitting you have a problem is half the battle. Acknowledging your drinking problem will allow your brain to work on correcting it actively.

2. Don’t Bother Feeling Ashamed

Alcohol abuse is an incredibly common problem; at any given time, the United States alone has more than 14 million problem drinkers, and in all likelihood, that figure is a gross underestimate.

3. Gauge the Severity of Your Problem

Go through the DSM’s 11 factors, and answer honestly. If you decide that six or more factors apply to you, your drinking problem is likely severe. For severe cases of alcoholism, self-detoxification can be dangerous. In these cases, it’s best to get professional help. Supervised detoxification will greatly decrease your risk of dangerous side effects, and medication can significantly ease your withdrawal symptoms.

4. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask for Help

If it was easy to fix a drinking problem, it wouldn’t be much of a problem. Your odds of success are greatly increased when you have a good support system. Addiction is both physical and mental, and both aspects need to be addressed. There are people who dedicate their lives to helping people quit drinking, and a lot of them do so because they’ve struggled with alcohol themselves.

5. Never Give Up

Perseverance is king. Most people who successfully quit drinking relapse at least once; it’s often part of the process. Relapsing can help people determine what their personal triggers are and provide invaluable insight on how to avoid them in the future.

FAQ

  • Do your true feelings come out when you are drunk?
  • Does drinking alcohol make you speak the truth?
  • Are drunk thoughts sober words?

Xanax and Alcohol: What You Need to Know

Xanax and Alcohol

Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, the use of Xanax and other psychiatric drugs has increased. About 46% of people who reported misusing the drug said they took it to relax or feel relief from anxiety.[1] Another 22% said they took it to help them sleep. Misusers were people who took it without a prescription and those who had a prescription but took more than prescribed. About 5.8% of adults in the United States reported misusing a prescription drug in 2020, and 1.5% reported misusing benzodiazepines.[2] Although misusing the drug by taking too much or taking it without a prescription are both common forms of abuse, another dangerous potential form of misuse is mixing it with alcohol.

What Is Xanax?

Also called alprazolam by its generic name, Xanax is in a class of drugs called benzodiazepines.[3] Valium is also a benzodiazepine, but Xanax was developed as an alternative to it. It was designed especially for treating panic attacks from anxiety, along with the chronic condition of anxiety. Benzodiazepines are tranquilizers and have a sedating effect. Since they tend to work quickly, they are often prescribed for people who have multiple panic attack episodes. Xanax is a Schedule IV controlled substance and is only available through prescription. However, people who misuse it often purchase it from a street drug dealer or obtain it from a friend or family member who has a prescription. One of the reasons why Xanax was created was to make a substance with less abuse potential than Valium. However, the abuse potential for Xanax is still significant because of how it acts on the body and affects the brain.

How Does Xanax Affect the Body and Brain?

Xanax is a central nervous system depressant.[3] This means that it slows the activity of the CNS. At the same time, it also increases gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is commonly known as GABA. This is the brain chemical that is responsible for creating feelings of calmness or relaxation. As a result, people feel more relaxed and less anxious when they take Xanax. Additionally, the drug reduces the level of excitement in the brain. When a person experiences a panic attack, the level of brain excitement is high.

Mixing Alcohol and Xanax

In addition to the actions Xanax has on the brain, there are other potential effects on the body. For example, when the level of brain excitement is high during a panic attack or when there is increased anxiety, a person’s muscles are usually tense. As a result of the Xanax taking effect, a person’s muscles will relax more. Some people get headaches when their anxiety is high, and the change in brain chemicals may also help relieve a headache.

Does Xanax Interact With Alcohol?

Xanax and alcohol interact with one another. Because of this, physicians and pharmacists often warn people to avoid consuming alcohol while taking Xanax. To better understand exactly how the two interact, it helps to know the science of it. This is easier to understand by learning the effects of ethanol and alprazolam mixing. Although all alcoholic drinks contain ethanol, they contain varying amounts.

In a study, researchers noted that ethanol and alprazolam created increased aggression.[5] Also, they analyzed the chemical interaction of the two substances. In comparison with administering alprazolam by itself, the concentration of the drug in the brain increased significantly when it was administered along with ethanol. The researchers concluded that ethanol could increase alprazolam toxicity by preventing CYP3A4 activity, along with potentially affecting other processes. Based on reported problems of people drinking alcohol and taking Xanax, their findings are certainly supported in medical statistics as well.

What Happens When You Mix Alcohol and Xanax?

As noted in the previous section, alcohol can increase the toxicity risks of Xanax or alprazolam. Because of this, taking the two substances together typically intensifies their individual effects.[6] To know what to possibly expect in terms of side effects and dangers, it helps to know the effects of both substances individually.

Effects of Alcohol

After the initial interaction that may create a subdued feeling, these are some potential effects of alcohol:

  • Loss of coordination
  • Memory problems
  • Mood swings
  • Lethargy or sleepiness
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Vomiting

Effects of Xanax

These are some potential negative effects of Xanax:

  • Memory problems
  • Seizures
  • Poor coordination
  • Impaired vision
  • Rage and aggression
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Vomiting or nausea

Long-Term Effects of Xanax and Alcohol

Although the beginning effects of even a small amount of alcohol and Xanax may be a buzz that is similar to consuming a lot of alcohol, the effects can quickly become unpleasant. If a person consumes alcohol and Xanax together regularly, there can be long-term effects. Long-term misuse of any chemical substance can increase the risk of developing other chronic illnesses. For example, someone who misuses alcohol may be too tired to exercise and may over-eat. This can lead to obesity and a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Drinking and substance abuse can also lead to permanent liver damage. Some of the shared effects of alcohol and alprazolam, such as memory problems and lack of coordination, can become long-term problems with repeated abuse. Since alcohol and drugs are hard on the gastrointestinal system, people can also develop a variety of GI disorders because of substance abuse. Misusing Xanax, alcohol, or both of them can exacerbate the effects of some existing health conditions as well. As a person continually misuses Xanax and alcohol, the risk of developing chemical dependence is higher.[7] This also increases the risk of developing an addiction.

Is There Help for Addiction To Alcohol and Xanax?

Treatment facilities exist in every state that offers treatment for alcohol addiction, Xanax addiction, and other substance addictions. Many of these treatment centers offer programs to treat more than one existing addiction. Additionally, they offer dual diagnosis treatment to address mental health issues.[8] Most people who misuse Xanax and have an alcohol addiction require dual diagnosis treatment since the underlying issue is usually anxiety or another mood disorder.

Alcohol & Xanax Addiction

A mental health condition is often the reason a person seeks a substance to misuse. For instance, someone with anxiety that is not managed well may seek Xanax and alcohol to help reduce the unpleasant effects of the anxiety. Addiction treatment centers help people find the right treatments for all their psychological health needs, including supportive therapies.

Treatment Programs

Although not all facilities offer every form of program, these are some of the types of addiction treatment programs that exist:

  • Inpatient detox takes place in a medical facility, and a person is supervised 24/7 while she or he stops using a substance.
  • Residential or inpatient treatment involves 24/7 care in a facility for a period between a month or up to a year, depending on individual needs.
  • Partial hospitalization treatment typically includes five sessions per week in a facility, and they last about five hours each.
  • An intensive outpatient program usually includes multiple weekly treatment sessions, and each session is about three hours.
  • An outpatient program may involve one or more sessions per week, and sessions are usually less than a few hours.
  • Online programs involve remote counseling for intensive or regular therapy.

Types of Therapy

There are several therapy approaches and designs that professionals use in addiction treatment. These are some common examples:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy analyzes the reasons for behaviors, and dialectical behavior therapy helps people modify behaviors.
  • Group therapy involves others who struggle with addiction.
  • Individual therapy focuses on the person with the addiction.
  • Family therapy helps family members learn how to support their loved one with addiction, and it helps the person with the addiction understand the individual effects on the family members.
  • 12-step meetings introduce people to a form of group therapy that is helpful in maintaining recovery as an ongoing requirement.
  • Holistic and natural therapies may include music therapy, meditation, yoga, exercise, nutrition, and other therapies that support overall wellness or teach people healthier habits.

Treatment for Alcohol and Xanax Addiction

A treatment facility will help a person who struggles with Xanax and alcohol addiction by developing a custom treatment plan. Through therapy, people learn their behavior causes or triggers. They also learn how to avoid some triggers, cope with the unavoidable ones and learn ways to overcome urges to misuse substances. They also learn how to stay in recovery and reduce their chances of relapsing. Thanks to legislative changes, most addiction treatment programs are covered or partially covered by marketplace insurance plans when treatment is deemed necessary by a medical professional.

References

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8294026/
[2] https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/misuse-prescription-drugs/what-scope-prescription-drug-misuse
[3] https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Benzodiazepenes-2020_1.pdf
[4] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326528
[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29848078/
[6] https://www.healthline.com/health/xanax-and-alcohol
[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2732004/
[8] https://medlineplus.gov/dualdiagnosis.html

FAQ

  • What Is Xanax being used for?
  • What are the side effects of Xanax?
  • What does alcohol do to your brain?
  • How Long Does Xanax Stay in Your System?
  • Does taking Xanax cause memory loss?