Science is probably the last thing you want to talk about when you have a buzz, but hear us out. As you crack open a cold one — we hope it’s cold, because Busch Light doesn’t taste so good when it’s warm — there’s more happening than the party around you. There’s also a party happening inside of your liver.
Unfortunately, this body party always ends up being pretty terrible. It’s fun at first, of course, but it can get out of control. And you’re sure to feel the effects of it. You might throw up, you might wake up with a wicked hangover, or you might lose your keys, phone and/or dignity. Whatever the case may be, it’s basically a given that you won’t feel your best the morning after a rager.
Now, back to the science part we mentioned at the beginning. Do you want to know what exactly is happening while you drink? Read on to find out ten of the effects that alcohol has on your body and mind.
And if you’re getting ready to go out right now, maybe you can try and turn it into a drinking game: a sip every time you’re enlightened, a sip every time you’re confused, and a shot every time you catch yourself saying, “I’m never drinking again.”
- Your Pre-Game Burrito Doesn’t Live Up to the Hype
You and your friends have probably picked up a sack of burritos or a few boxes of pizza to eat before you start to booze. “It soaks up the alcohol,” someone older and wiser probably said to you. It turns out that it’s not the carb-o-licious foods you’re eating before you drink that help your body remove the alcohol you put into it.
Instead, a full stomach signals to your pyloric sphincter that your stomach has some work to do in terms of digestion, so it closes access to the small intestine. This means alcohol can’t reach the small intestine, either, and this is where most of your alcohol is absorbed. Good looking out, giant burrito.
- Ladies = Lightweights
As you start to sip, you should take caution if you’re a member of the greater sex: Your body doesn’t have as many of the enzymes required to detox your blood post-party. It turns out guys may have up to 80 percent more of these enzymes. So unfair. Fortunately, they lose some of their tank-like qualities as they age, while ladies maintain their tolerance levels.
- Breathe In, Breathe Booze Out
You probably already know your liver has to work overtime when you drink. It’s doing its best to cleanse your system of the alcohol that’s floating around. In order to do so, it redirects some alcohol to be expelled via your sweat, urine and breath. This explains why some drinkers smell like a distillery when they talk to you.
- Secret’s Not Safe With You
A single drink can cause mild speech impairment; however, multiple drinks might give you a serious case of word vomit. Your brain has a built-in alarm system that rings every time it knows that you’re making a mistake. In a normal circumstance, your brain would say, “Hey, maybe don’t tell your best friend that you think her boyfriend is a tool right now.” Your brain on booze, however, will just dull the signals so that you don’t get them. You can also attribute this honesty to your increasing lack of inhibition with each sip, something that you’ve probably documented yourself when you’ve woken up and seen those pictures of you twerking it on top of a bar.
- Reach for the Fries
Drunk eating is one of the best parts of getting drunk. After a night out, you’ve probably had a thought that sounds something like, “IF I DON’T EAT FRIES RIGHT NOW I WILL DIE OH MY GOD.” This is a completely normal reaction, especially if you’re out drinking late. That’s because your body is tired and craving energy. It knows fries are loaded with carbohydrates that’ll give you just enough power to wobble home and fall into your bed like a sawed-down tree.
- Get Ready to Count Sheep
The idea of the nightcap is, unfortunately, bogus. Some people think a little bit of booze before bed improves their quality of sleep. It turns out you’ll toss and turn even more because your bedtime pre-game causes you to be dehydrated. Dehydration leads to poor-quality sleep, which nobody has time for. The effects are even worse for binge drinkers, which explains why you’ll still feel tired even though you slept for literally 12 hours after the last big drunk fest.
- Go for Gold, Win Participatory Ribbon
As soon as you start drinking, you start thinking about sex … and you can’t stop. This is completely normal and something that you can blame entirely on booze. Unfortunately, alcohol has its way with the nerve centers on your hypothalamus that control sexual arousal and performance. The former is increased, while the latter is, depressingly, decreased.
- Aspirin? No Thanks.
You’ve got a headache, but you still want to go out. What do you do? The answer: do not take an aspirin. And don’t go out if you’re sick. What did your mother teach you about life? Seriously, though, aspirin causes what might be the most wicked hangovers in the world. That’s because it stunts your body’s ability to break down the booze you drink. Hello, pounding head, couch, and a full day’s worth of Law and Order reruns. You will be too hungover to function.
- Blame It on the Kidneys
Do you dread breaking the seal? You can blame your constant trips to the bathroom on your kidneys, which redirect all of your body’s liquids to the bladder for quick and easy expulsion. Your constant trips to the toilet also cause your body to dehydrate, which increases the unpleasantness of your hangover the next day, too. Woof.
- Drink Up
We’re not talking about beer here. It’s vital to drink lots of water after a night of drinking. That’s because your liver needs it to do its job. And, while it probably won’t go on strike or demand a raise for the horrible working conditions your body provides, it will cause your hangover to be a lot more painful without water to help it flush toxins from your system.
Now, we know that you probably won’t stop drinking while you’re in college, or even after for that matter, but note: there are some unsavory effects of drinking that can be reversed by eating a sandwich before you drink and chugging some water after. Okay, maybe it’s not that easy, but now that you know the science, use it to your advantage … unlike the piles of abandoned textbooks scattered all over your dorm room.