Alcohol Explained

The definitive, ground breaking guides to alcohol, alcoholism and addiction.

How Long Does it Take to Start Feeling Better After You Stop Drinking?

I thought it would be useful to set out a timeline so you know what you can expect when you stop drinking, and most importantly when you start feeling human again. There are four main physiological processes you need to go through before you wake up with that feeling of emerging from a cocoon into a brighter, better world (in fact this is simply how you feel when you stop poisoning yourself and allow your brain to get back on an even keel). Let's look at these three processes in order. 1. The Alcohol. The first and most obvious one is the alcohol needs to leave your system. On average it takes one hour for your liver to process one unit of alcohol (one unit being 25ml / 0.85oz of spirits, 76ml / 2.5oz of wine, or 250ml / 8.5oz of beer). So if you've drunk 3 bottles of spirits it could take around three and a half days for that alcohol to be processed. Most people probably won't be drinking to that level, but most people, particularly if they are drinking outside of their home, won't really have any idea how much they have drunk. A good rule of thumb is that the average person will need about 24 hours to rid themselves of all the alcohol. 2. Excess Stimulants. The brain has its own supply of drugs, hormones and chemicals that it releases at exactly the right times and in exactly the right quantities to keep us feeling mentally confident, healthy and resilient. Alcohol is a depressant (and when I use the term depressant I am using it in its chemical sense, meaning something...

read more

Why You Drink More Than You Want To

You wake up. You feel rubbish. How much did you drink last night? Can’t remember exactly? The only thing you are sure of is that it was far more then you intended. Again. So why is there this tendency to drink too much? Is it just that you get carried away in the moment and lose count? Or that you are weak-willed and just can't say no? Is it just you? Is there something wrong with you? Isn't this a symptom of alcoholism? In fact there are two very specific reasons why people tend to drink too much and find they have to exercise willpower to limit what they drink, and those reasons apply to everyone. You can rest assured that there is nothing wrong with you, and it certainly doesn't necessarily mean you are an alcoholic! The first reason is to do with the differing time it takes two specific effects of alcohol to run their course; the mental relaxation and the physical intoxication. The second is to do with the body's physiological reaction to alcohol. Let’s consider them both in order. Mental Relaxation vs Physical Intoxication The most common reason people reach for a drink is for the relaxing, comforting effect. Alcohol is an anaesthetic; it anaesthetises certain feelings (such as tiredness, stress, pain, and discomfort) and the effect of this is that we tend to feel more mentally relaxed after a drink. Of course the depressant/anaesthetising effects don’t just work on our mind, causing us to feel relaxed, they also affect the rest of our body, leaving us slightly...

read more

Morning Drinking

There are a few fairly nonsensical indicators when it comes to problem drinking. Things like drinking alone and experiencing memory loss. I doubt there is a serious drinker on the planet who hasn't had drinking induced memory loss to one degree or another, unless they are one of the temperate few who never drank more then they intended. As for drinking alone, surely someone who has a glass of two in front of the telly one or two days a week has far less of an issue than someone who drinks to oblivion every night with friends (or acquaintances) in the local pub or bar. Morning drinking is another one, it is often cited as a symptom of problem drinking, but that means that everyone who has had a morning drink at a wedding, or at Christmas, or at the airport before going on holiday, had a drinking problem. As you can see all of these so called symptoms of problem drinking are very subjective, but I think that morning drinking, if not a symptom of having a drinking problem per se, can be a significant stepping stone on the journey to chronic alcoholism. My 'morning drinks' were actually middle of the night drinks. Whenever I drank I would always wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning, anxious and utterly unable to get back to sleep despite being absolutely shattered. I would lie there unable to sleep for the rest of the night and get out of bed even more shattered in the morning than before I went to bed. I now know that the reason for this was simply that my brain had...

read more