Help me explain and deal with the awful psychological effects of my hangovers.
April 7, 2008 8:36 AM Subscribe
Drinking even a small amount of alcohol leaves me with debilitating psychological effects that can last for days afterwards. The logical answer is of course to quit drinking, but I'd like first to explore other options.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (21 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Some background: I'm male and in my early 30s. I am not a heavy drinker in any way - I drink perhaps three or four times per month, and seldom more than a few beers or glasses of wine. I enjoy alcohol while I'm drinking and find it enhances my ability to socialise - I don't 'need' it, but find that nights out are generally better with it than without. The problems I'm describing have been part of my life for the past seven years or so, and have steadily got worse.
A familiar routine plays itself out on getting home after a night out when I've consumed any amount of alcohol. I go to sleep quickly and have a restless night of vivid, intense dreams, waking up often. I'm up for good after five or six hours, feeling exhausted but unable to sleep more. The physical effects (dryness/headache) lift soon after, but psychological torment now sets in: paranoia, anxiety, inability to concentrate on more than one thing, constant 'bursts of thought', a skewed sense of space where I'm not able to conceive places outside my realm of vision, and other strange happenings. The only cure I've found for this is sleep, but increasingly the effects last for days. And I repeat, all of this with only a couple of glasses of beer or wine (!).
Through talking extensively to friends etc. I've concluded that my situation is pretty unique. I've yet to meet someone who even notices the morning-after effects of alcohol on their minds - a 'hangover' for most people involves a headache and a dry mouth, easily cured with a large glass of water/fried food/exercise. The average alcohol tolerance level seems a lot higher than mine, although I don't seem to get drunk any faster, or any more drunk than my friends. Even more bizarrely, alcohol actually seems to HELP these people to sleep, so they sometimes wake up feeling more rested than if they hadn't drunk at all.
I'm not on any medication, nor do I want to be. I should also add that I've had sleeping 'issues' since childhood (light sleep, waking in the middle of the night, etc.). Boxes I've already ticked on my quest for an honorable hangover: sleeping pills before bed (longer sleep, decreased the psychological trauma slightly but made me groggy the day after), paracetamol before and after sleep (had no effect beyond alleviating physical symptoms), aromatherapy (no effect), over-the-counter herbal hangover 'cures' (no effect), not sleeping (intensified all symptoms - yikes), meditation (very temporary cure of psychological symptoms).
Please help me understand more about why my hangovers are so damn hard on my mind. What are your experiences of this? Do you have any tips for how I could combat these unwanted bad trips while maintaining a healthy light drinking habit?