Are Drunk Words Sober Thoughts?

Has anyone ever said something hurtful to you while they were drunk? It may have left you questioning something about yourself or if the person meant it. Perhaps you have said something to another person after drinking and regretted it. These situations leave people wondering if drunk words are the same as sober thoughts. It is common for a person to seem like two different people when the individual is sober versus drunk.[1] Does this mean that people say things they do not mean? Studies show that, in many cases, people mean what they say when drunk. However, they still may not have as much control over their words. To better understand the concept, it is crucial to know how alcohol and addiction affect the brain.

How Alcohol Affects the Brain

Alcohol disrupts essential communication channels in the brain, affecting how the brain works.[2] Because of the chemical effects, speech, and movement function, the brain influences are inhibited or altered. For example, drunk people may have slurred speech, poor balance, and memory difficulties. Those altered physical abilities are why people often have a car or on-the-job accidents when drunk.

drunk thoughts

There is a portion of the brain that is also responsible for inhibitions.[3] Alcohol negatively affects inhibitions as well, which means a person is more likely to feel confident and say anything that comes to mind. With altered inhibitions, people make poorer judgments. They may do other harmful things they would not normally do. Alcohol use is significantly damaging for adolescents since misuse during those years can lead to improper brain development with long-lasting effects.[2] Blackouts are also problematic for people who use alcohol. These are memory lapses that happen when a person is intoxicated.[2] When the person wakes up or becomes sober, the individual may not remember anything from the blackout period. Alcohol can block memory storage abilities in the hippocampus.

Too much alcohol in a short period can also lead to overdose or alcohol poisoning. When a person consumes enough for an overdose, the parts of the brain that control essential functions like heart rate and breathing start to fail. A person who overdoses on alcohol may vomit, have seizures, lose consciousness, and experience other serious problems.[2]

Why Drunk Words May Be Sober Thoughts

It is important to remember that not every person is the same. Some people may say hurtful and untrue things to a person they want to hurt while drunk. For instance, a person may tell a friend that the individual is ugly even if that person is very attractive. The reason could be anger, jealousy, or another negative emotion. However, people who are intoxicated also tend to say true things or share their honest thoughts in many cases. For instance, a person may feel that a coworker does not do their fair share of work. While getting drinks after work, the drunk person may tell the coworker. Without alcohol, the person may not otherwise say that to the coworker.

People often say that alcohol makes people more social, and some say they need a few drinks before doing something they feel takes courage. Additionally, many people who participate in alcohol studies report that their personalities tend to be more extroverted when intoxicated.[4] Although people say they have a drunk and a sober personality, research shows that actual personality changes tend to be less significant than people think.[5] While some traits in one study stayed the same for people who were drunk or sober, their behavior was significantly changed.[5] As covered in the previous section, alcohol affects the brain, which is responsible for influencing certain functions.

In another study, people who drank until they had a .09 blood-alcohol level were asked to identify various objects. Compared with those who were not given alcohol, those who were intoxicated were just as likely to realize and admit their mistakes when they made them.[6] This shows that although there may be inhibited or altered brain functions, people who are intoxicated may still be aware of what they are saying or doing. The researchers in that study uncovered results that were consistent with common research findings that intoxicated people tend to be uninhibited despite awareness.

In studying brain activity, intoxicated participants showed smaller responses to their errors.[6] They quickly moved on to the next object despite their awareness of the error. However, the sober participants showed a more significant brain response to errors and were not as quick to move on to the next object after making a mistake. The research shows that people who are intoxicated may be aware of their actions but may care less about the consequences because of altered brain function.

This also shows that drunk people may say what they really think but typically hold back while sober since their altered brain function makes them care less about consequences. Also, drunk people often make poor decisions and suffer negative consequences later. Sometimes, when this becomes an expected behavior or trend for a person, the individual may suffer from addiction.

things said while drunk

Understanding How Alcohol Addiction Works

While even one isolated episode of heavy drinking can lead to a person feeling less inhibited and saying regretful things, repeated use can lead to dependence. When a person is dependent on alcohol, the individual experiences withdrawal and may feel unable to function normally without it.[7] Eventually, the person may become addicted to alcohol.

Addiction differs from dependence. While an addicted person will still experience withdrawal symptoms without alcohol, the individual cannot stop using the substance.[7] Also, addiction negatively affects multiple areas of life for most people. For example, a person may lose a job, get into legal trouble, have financial difficulties or something else. Without professional treatment, it is nearly impossible to overcome addiction. Long-term alcohol misuse can lead to reductions in neuron size or permanent alterations in the brain.[2] Neurons are responsible for transmitting messages in the brain and nervous system.

Since it is diagnosable, addiction is classified as a brain disease and is a chronic condition.[7] There is no perfect cure for addiction, and a person who gets sober can relapse and fall back into the destructive cycle of drinking. Some people go through multiple cycles of relapse and treatment. However, overcoming addiction with treatment, ongoing support, and commitment to a new lifestyle is possible.

Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

The first step toward sobriety is admitting and realizing there is a problem. Willingness to seek treatment is also essential. In many cases, people are unwilling to go to rehab. Some people set up interventions for loved ones to encourage them to get treatment. The interventions may include consequences. For example, a family member who pays for another member’s bills may threaten to cut off financial support if the individual does not go to rehab.

Treatment starts with alcohol detox. During this time, the body adjusts to life without alcohol. There are some unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and stronger cravings. Fortunately, in professional treatment facilities, doctors can provide medications to help alleviate discomfort from some unpleasant symptoms during detox. Supervised detox is necessary since withdrawal effects can be dangerous.

The next phase of treatment is therapy. Depending on the facility and a person’s needs, therapy may be inpatient or outpatient. Also called residential treatment, inpatient therapy involves staying in the facility 24/7 for about a month or longer. Outpatient programs may be structured as partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient therapy or general outpatient therapy. The length of sessions and their frequency of them depend on individual needs. Professionals use cognitive behavioral therapy to help people learn about their behaviors and triggers, and they help them develop strategies to overcome problematic behaviors and deal with triggers. Once a person finishes treatment, it is important to regularly attend AA meetings or a similar support group. Peer support is helpful for accountability and encouragement.

Finding Alcohol Addiction Treatment in Palm Beach

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction, Allure Detox is here to help. Allure Detox has a state-of-the-art detox facility and offers medication-assisted detox, dual diagnosis residential treatment, and more. Dual diagnosis treatment is essential for people who suffer from alcohol addiction and a co-occurring mental health condition. In addition to alcohol detox, there are drug detox programs as well. To learn more about alcohol detox in Palm Beach, please get in touch with us.

References

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4091632/
[2] https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohols-effects-health/alcohol-and-brain-overview
[3] https://oasas.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2019/08/The_Brain.pdf
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5544024/
[5] https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/releases/personality-may-change-when-you-drink-but-less-than-you-think.html
[6] https://marquettewire.org/3795636/republican-national-convention/study-people-aware-of-their-mistakes-while-drunk/
[7] https://www.webmd.com/connect-to-care/addiction-treatment-recovery/dependence-versus-addiction

FAQ

  • Are drunk words sober thoughts?