God, I hate drinking....
October 2, 2011 8:07 AM   Subscribe

Help a college student re-learn how to drink.

So, I am a current (underage) college student in the U.S. Although I have never liked the taste of alcohol, nor how it makes me feel (drunk or not), in high school I used to go to parties, do some shots with friends, play pong, and generally speaking have a pretty enjoyable time.

Over the last year or so, though, I've started smoking marijuana everyday to help with my anxiety, depression, and (pretty severe) OCD -- it has without a doubt made me a more productive person (as I no longer spend all of my time ruminating/excessively worrying), and likewise, I have no plans to stop.

The only "problem" is that I can no longer stand alcohol: for me, the feeling of being drunk, in comparison to being high, it just.... it sucks. I wish this wasn't the case, however, as all of my friends drink, and it makes it hard when they want to go out rage on a Friday night, but I just want to smoke up, listen to music, and watch South Park.

So, aside from making new friends, what can I do to start "enjoying" alcohol again? Do I need to just find, and stick with, a drink that I really like? Or is there something more?

Side note: even though I am male, I really only have ever been able to tolerate the more "feminine" mixed drinks; I think beer, wine, and whiskey taste like shit (again, I wish this wasn't the case).

Thanks MeFi!
posted by lobbyist to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I stopped drinking alcohol a few years ago, and still hang out with friends who drink. Most bars have seltzer water, bars which serve mixed drinks usually have fruit juices and what-not. Tip your bartender as though you were drinking alcohol, get them on your side early, and hang out with your friends without getting drunk. Bonus: you can be the designated driver.
posted by straw at 8:13 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

as for your choice of drink: cheap beer, wine and whiskey DO taste like shit. order more expensive alcohol or add something sweet to your cheap drink (whiskey sour, gimlet, etc.) As long as what you're drinking does not obviously contain fruit juice or brightly colored mixer or whatever, don't worry about not drinking "manly" things; classic cocktails are back in vogue and plenty manly, just don't admit you ordered something with sugar in it.
posted by slow graffiti at 8:19 AM on October 2, 2011

You can't necessarily learn to enjoy the feeling of being drunk, or the taste of alcoholic beverages. It sounds like you're trying to access that uninhibited fun-time feeling again, which may be affected by the pot. Honestly, if that's what you need to have a good time, then go with the sweeter drinks that make it easier to get the alcohol in your system.

HOWEVER: I think your relationship with pot and your desired relationship with alcohol are really dangerous crutches for you. You are looking for them to medicate and treat social problems that really should be managed by a therapist, not chemicals.
posted by Think_Long at 8:26 AM on October 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

Your title says it all:

God, I hate drinking....

So don't. It's not that difficult. The legality aside, you should do things that you want to do.

The college "thing" is that people drink booze that tastes like shit (cheap beer, bottom-shelf vodka) because the positives (hanging out with friends, possibly getting laid) outweigh the negatives. If it's not worth it for you, it's not. Drink rum and coke without the rum, or vodka cranberry without the vodka. Get wasted before if you need to.

It sounds like your question is, "How can I get drunk without drinking?" You can't, but if you want to get drunk badly enough, you'll find a way.
posted by supercres at 8:28 AM on October 2, 2011

You never enjoyed alcohol, so it's not a question of learning to enjoy it again.

Have you tried hanging out with your college friends and not drinking? Just because there's a party doesn't mean everyone at it (you) has to get wasted.

I'm not trying to sound like an after school special here. You want to hang out with your friends who drink (rather than find a stoner crew), which leaves two options: drink or don't while you're with them. There's no magic pill you can take to make you suddenly like booze, so you just have to either power through or not.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:29 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Mod note: folks, if you need to go to metatalk, go to metatalk, thanks
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:33 AM on October 2, 2011

Yeah, I'm not sure that you need to acquire a taste for booze just because you think you need to. I definitely went out and got "my rage on" for my freshman year before I started drinking alcohol with any regularity.

If you want to find a drink that you might like, I started with stuff like a Rum and Coke, light on the rum. Bacardi and coke blend well together, and most people won't give you shit for drinking it (if that's what you're worried about). Have one, nurse it for a long while, and no one will comment. If you're in a situation where hard liquor isn't available and only shit beer is there (Keystone Light in my years), I would generally open a can and hold it, taking the smallest sips. No need to get drunk, because I could still definitely have the same amount of fun.

As long as you're not acting like a buzzkill, no one should give a shit.

My other comment is that while I didn't smoke up in college, I definitely knew people that did. A few of them threw up like crazy when they mixed copious amounts of alcohol and pot. Most people don't (that I know of), but just more of a cautionary tale.
posted by SNWidget at 8:38 AM on October 2, 2011

(a) Go cold sober for a while to temper what seems to be both a psychological and physical addiction to pot.
(b) Go to a doctor and get on some real medications (if you haven't already) to treat those things for which you're self-medicating.
(c) Give the sobriety some weeks or months, and see how things treat you after that. Give your system a new baseline, as it were.

However, you indicate in your post that you never really liked alcohol to begin with; I'm not sure why you expect this to change. It certainly doesn't seem like a 'type of drink' situation: broadly-speaking, there are people who like alcohol in all its forms, people who like alcohol but only in certain forms, and people who just plain don't like alcohol. You seem to fall squarely in the third category.
posted by matlock expressway at 8:47 AM on October 2, 2011

Part of the problem with answering your question is that you that that not only do you hate the taste of alcohol, you hate the feeling of being drunk. So what kind of answer do you want?

There are plenty of people who like getting drunk, but don't like the flavor of alcohol. So they usually drink something neutral-tasting like vodka mixed with something sweet.

And there are plenty of people who like the taste of liquor, but don't like the feeling of being drunk. So they drink small amounts, slowly.

I suppose you could somehow combine the two, and nurse a screwdriver all night. But really, why bother? For your purposes, it would be a lot cheaper to stick to soft drinks.
posted by neroli at 8:54 AM on October 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

I was a non-drinker in college and now occasionally have a drink in social situations. It took me years to both develop a taste for alcoholic drinks and to figure out what kinds I enjoy.

It is difficult to not drink when you're in college and hang out with people who do. Every time I was in a new group of people, I'd have to go through a round of explaining that I didn't drink, but once I'd done that, people were fine with it. You can explain something like this to people. A permanent designated driver is always useful (of course I was the least useful person: not a drinker and not a driver).

My general experience is that people relax as long as you have a glass with something liquid in it. You don't have to drink it, you just have to have it in your hand. Those suggesting a glass of soda are right - as long as you still tip the bartender you're fine.

That said, if you want to spend some time to find a drink you enjoy, your best bet is to find a sympathetic bartender or a friend with a large and varied liquor cabinet. If you like sweeter drinks, try tonic with real lime juice and vodka. Sweet, delicious, refreshing (I usually have it without the vodka). It doesn't have the "girly" drink vibe as much as something pink.

In terms of enjoying being drunk: I don't know how you can enjoy that again. I found one of the more difficult parts about being sober around drunk people was that they weren't that funny and the conversations weren't that interesting. This depends highly on the people you're hanging out with.

Another solution is to stop hanging out with people in drinking situations. There are definitely other people who prefer THC to ethanol. They might be more enjoyable for you to spend time with.

Don't force yourself to do something you don't want to do. Look at the benefits of drinking and decide if they're worth it to you.
posted by sciencegeek at 9:01 AM on October 2, 2011

Also, I know this isn't answering the question, but if you have issues with depression, drinking will only exacerbate this. It will make it worse. So, if you don't like the taste of alcohol, and you don't like being drunk, don't drink.

It sounds like your real question is how do I get involved in more group activities. In college, alot of group activities revolve around drinking and bars. That sucks if you aren't into it but you want the interaction.

Also, getting involved in other activities, sports/clubs that don't involve drinking may be the best way to avoid having to do something you don't like to do in the first place, but still fulfill those desires you have to be involved.
posted by TheBones at 9:10 AM on October 2, 2011

This might not be easy in your current situation, but if you want to enjoy wine, beer, etc, I think you need to branch out and try better stuff. In college I drank a lot of fruity mixed drinks because for the most part just a sip of beer almost made me gag. I didn't particularly like the mixed drinks either - basically anything that "tastes like alcohol" tasted like shit to me too, and still does. I think part of the reason for that is in college most people drink cheap stuff.

Then I studied abroad in Germany and developed a taste for (good) beer. I now like a wide range of beer and wine but will still pass on pretty much any liquor.
posted by fromageball at 9:10 AM on October 2, 2011

I didn't like to drink in college either for pretty much the same reasons. It wasn't until much later that I discovered there are such things as good whisky, wine and beer. They're just more expensive.

Try to find some microbrews on tap; try wheaty or hoppy or dark beers to see if you kind find a beer taste you do like. Hefewiezen was my gateway beer. Failing that, cocktails (or mocktails) are just fine. There are manly ones that taste good. Since you already have the pot thing going, try white Russians and if people give you a hard time you can play the Lebowski card. I don't think there is any point in trying to approach whiskey at this point, other than to say it's an acquired taste and you kinda have to want it.

And if you just want to hang out and be one of the guys, work on your acting. Take that shot but discretely dump it when nobody is looking, etc.

Whatever you end up doing, realize this isn't that big of a deal and you're not abnormal. If anything, you're a little higher class than your drinking buddies.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:17 AM on October 2, 2011

You absolutely do not need to drink alcohol, even though it seems like you need to. If you feel the need to have a drink in your hand, do what I do when I'm not drinking - have a cranberry juice and soda (or cranberry/sprite). It "looks" like an alcoholic drink, but it's not.

There is really no need for you to force yourself to drink alcohol if you don't want to.
posted by pdb at 9:29 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

I got through college and grad school without drinking, because I hate the taste. I will drink a sip every once in a while to toast, but that's it. It can be done. There's no reason to drink if you don't want.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 9:34 AM on October 2, 2011

Are you smoking the same day as you're drinking? I found that mixing the two works for some people, but it definitely doesn't work for me. It made me feel like shit. Try drinking when you haven't been high for a while (if this isn't what you're doing already).
posted by auto-correct at 9:35 AM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Good lord, you sound exactly like me in college. You're not the first person to self-medicate in that fashion and ultimately end up being more productive, but please realize that it's a short-term fix for anxiety, not a long term one. This is completely anecdotal, but since you sound like a smart kid, take it from someone who has been down that path- smoking weed every day, while it will certainly never kill you, will definitely interfere with some of your higher brain functions. If you ever get to a place where you need to be using that brain 100% (say, grad school or law school or a challenging, interesting job) you'll find you just weren't quite as sharp as you used to be, and also that you have about half the time you need to get anything done. I'm not recommending you go the pharmacological route either, since benzodiazepines often have some of the same or worse side effects. But use the calm and peace of mind that weed brings to work on you, not to forget you need work.

Anyway, in college I also hated the taste of booze while socializing primarily with drinkers, and, despite being a girl, I did not particularly enjoy the thought of being seen sipping girly drinks. One way to go about it is to cultivate a real taste for a certain type of alcohol, which is what I've done as an adult. I picked wheated bourbon (Makers Mark, Eagle Rare, Van Winkle, Rebel Yell- there are a lot, but MM is the most widely distributed by far), because it lacks the bitter, smoky taste of regular bourbon, scotch, or whiskey. I usually drink it with water, and recommend giving this a shot- 2/3 bourbon and 1/3 water doesn't look any different than straight bourbon, but it tastes a hell of a lot better. Just ask for makers and water on the rocks at a bar, or mix it yourself. Whiskey lemonade is a good party drink.

As to beers, if you're not worried about sugar content, I'd give Belgian Lambic a shot. It's a beer, but tastes like a comestible rather than alcohol, as Greg Nog put it well above. It'll give you something to hold in your hands that looks like a beer, and chances are good frat boys won't recognize it as essentially sweet beer. Ditto on Pyramid's Apricot Ale and really nice beer, like Duvel or Chimay.

And as for wine, for reds I'd go Spanish, which tends to be sweeter and a lot more mellow, but I'd try to go with whites (unless that's also too girly). Rieslings don't even really taste alcoholic.

Good luck with everything. Memail if you want to talk in more detail about your self-medication strategy. No judgement.
posted by libertypie at 9:41 AM on October 2, 2011

I suggest talking to your friends about this. Just say "hey, it seems like we spend every single weekend partying. It's kind of exhausting, and I don't even like alcohol that much; how about this weekend we just all come over to my place and chill?" You're probably not the only person who feels this way: partying all the time is exhausting.

On the other hand, if they get all defensive and think you're a pussy for not getting shitface drunk every weekend, then I'm sorry to say, but they're assholes. Probably better to find this out sooner rather than later.

I'm a college student (super-senior FTW). I didn't drink at all until after I turned 21. I still drink infrequently and rarely to excess. I haven't found that this has inhibited my ability to make friends at all. Indeed, quite to the contrary, the friendships I have are strong, in large part because we have much, much more in common than alcohol.

I'm not trying to be a moralistic snoot, or to tell you you should dump all your friends, but if your primary mode of interaction with these people involves something you hate, it's probably worth looking at what you're getting out of the friendship.

I also feel I should point out, as others have, that marijuana is not a good long term solution for anxiety and depression. In the end, it will very likely make both those things worse for you. I strongly encourage you to re-evaluate your smoking habits. I have seen pot drag down and destroy more than one person I care about. It is much more harmful in the long term than a lot of people realize or give it credit for. Proceed with caution.
posted by Commander Rachek at 10:01 AM on October 2, 2011

Just as a data point, I recently hosted a five-man bachelor party in New Orleans. Two of us were sober the whole time, and the other three were drunk and/or stoned pretty much continuously. Everybody involved had an excellent time, because we were all friends and we were celebrating together. (And, importantly, we were doing things other than just drinking. We were exploring a city, having a meal, watching the ships go by on the Mississippi, etc.) Whatever mental state we happened to prefer was immaterial.

I realize that people in college aren't always so cool about their friends' choices as far as drinking or not, but understand that you don't have to drink (and you certainly don't have to go one-for-one with everyone around you). As long as you are able to be relaxed and enjoy yourself, nobody will think that you are bringing them down.

Also, it helps if the parties or whatever that you're going to are fun in and of themselves instead of just an excuse to get wasted. Some things are fun when sober and possibly enhanced by the addition of a little alcohol, while others are just stupid and one has to be plastered just to stand it. Try to figure out which is which and avoid things that don't sound like they're actually fun on their own merits.
posted by Scientist at 10:24 AM on October 2, 2011

Slight modification: some people may actually accuse you of bringing them down if you don't drink even if you are having fun and being chill. This. Also, they may be encouraging you to drink because they have a bit of unacknowledged alcoholism and feel insecure drinking if there are sober people in the room. You have absolutely no obligation to pander to this kind of manipulative and self-destructive behavior and are probably best just excusing yourself from those situations and either leaving the party or hanging out with someone else for a bit until the offending person chills out. Deciding what to do here is a bit delicate but you'll figure it out with a bit of trial and error.

Basically what I'm saying is that you should go to parties that seem like they will be fun, behave in whatever way you are comfortable behaving, be relaxed about it (or, if you're anxious, fake being relaxed about it) and see how it goes. If you don't have fun, don't go to those types of parties anymore. If you're treated badly, don't hang out with those people anymore. If you do have fun, do more things like that. It'll all work out fine.
posted by Scientist at 10:31 AM on October 2, 2011

Yeah, the beers people drink in college are always atrocious. Natty Light, Milwaukee's Best, Miller, etc. are drunk because they're cheap, and they're watered down so you need to "rage" on more of them over the course of a night to get the same effect. I'd say don't drink, but if you still want to, cultivate a beer snob attitude and go with pricier, tasty, complex, stronger beers and drink them slowly and with less frequency than how everyone else is drinking. Discover independent craft beers and imports such as Belgian Trappist ales, and read up on beeradvocate.com. If your friends then give you shit about not drinking as much as them, you can compare alcohol contents and tastes and prices. And maybe also tell them you smoked up beforehand and don't want to be both drunk AND stoned (which tends to make me feel dizzy and unpleasant, anyway).
posted by naju at 11:13 AM on October 2, 2011

Don't smoke and drink at the same time. Unless you're used to it, they synergistically mess you up. I used to be able to smoke and be perfectly sociable, used to be able to drink and be perfectly sociable, but when I mixed the two - woah, couch swirling the entire night (I'm used to it now and smoking lets me get fucked up on less booze. Here's your word of warning about drinking.)

And, yeah, if you don't enjoy the feel/taste of alcohol - why go raging? Sometimes it's fun to do stuff with drunk people while you're sober. Most of the time though, it's really fucking boring. If you want to be in a similar mindframe/mood during a "rage," you'll optimally want to be on the same drinking rate/intox as your friends. As an alternative, how about sub/threshold amounts of (psychoactive) stimulants?

If you want to develop a taste for alcohol, go spend money on the better stuff. One good thing about bars is that you can have one glass/shot/drink/whatever of something new and you can see if you like the taste without buying the entire bottle. Once you find something you like (a favourite beer [*lots* of different kinds], scotch, perhaps or cognac/armagnac, but there are *lots* of different types of booze), it becomes much easier to find other kinds of alcohol palatable.

Alcohol is very much a developed taste for... most people; if you must to socialize with your friends or you anticipate working in business/finance/law and climbing that ladder requires you to booze it up... suck it up. Keep sucking down that sweet sweet alcohol and you'll learn to like it.
posted by porpoise at 6:46 PM on October 2, 2011

Drink less of better.

That's all there is to it, really.
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:31 PM on October 2, 2011

You don't have to drink if you don't want to, you can still go out and have fun.

But if you do want to drink - Cider: looks like beer, tastes like juice!
posted by peppermintfreddo at 3:51 AM on October 3, 2011

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