Why is drinking alcohol not enjoyable for me?
October 30, 2006 1:49 AM   Subscribe

Why is drinking alcohol not enjoyable for me?

Although I have no qualms against drinking alcohol, whenever I drink beer and wine I don't find the experience enjoyable. Am I doing something wrong? Do I have the wrong expectations?

I don't think alcohol has the effect of making more talkative or social. I think I become more sluggish and even somewhat sleepy.

Being sluggish and sleepy does make me not want to do anything that requires any mental concentration. That's allright I suppose since the effects of the alcohol eventually wear off. However, other than this "sluggish" effect, I don't seem to get anything positive out of drinking. I've heard that alcohol makes people more friendly, kind, emotionally responsive, but I perceive no such effect in myself after I drink.

To sum it all up to a question: With all those things mind, why I am not enjoying alcohol? Is there some essential thing about drinking that I am ignorant of that prevents me from enjoying it?

(BTW: When I do drink, I drink little - no more than 2 beers or a goblet of wine.)
posted by gregb1007 to Food & Drink (35 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I know at least two people who are allergic to alcohol. One comes out in rashes, in fact. Perhaps this is what happens for you.
posted by b33j at 2:01 AM on October 30, 2006

Try drinking more. With each level of "more" you'll feel a different effect of drinking.

For many people, just a drink or two acts as a sedative. But after 4 or 5 (really, becoming intoxicated), the opposite happens.

I often feel tired and sometimes irritable after a single beer, but after two-four across an evening I will feel quite pleasant with no real side effects the next day.

Also, wine makes me feel terrible, but clear alcohol (gin, vodka, tequila) has the opposite effect. Try drinking less "other stuff" with your alcohol.
posted by fake at 2:23 AM on October 30, 2006

im with fake, simply having a few drinks really mellows me out. almost makes me want to nap.

but as soon as i do a bit of speed drinking story totally changes.
posted by moochoo at 2:31 AM on October 30, 2006

fake's points would sum up my opinion - a couple of drinks can help you relax and feel drowsy; a couple more can then wake you up.

Different types of drinks have different effects on different people - from allergies, to different moods. Whiskey traditionally makes people aggressive, gin can make some people maudlin; vodka+red bull can make you totally hyperactive.

An awful lot also depends on your mood when drinking - if you're happy, and expecting/hoping for a fun night, then that can be carried forwards into your drunkeness; if you're miserable, fed up, or not in the mood for going out, then booze just exaggerates the negativity.

Drinking with a group of friends is always good, and more-so if you're in a low pressure environment (i.e. sitting around at home playing games, or chatting) rather than at a nightclub where you're expected to get up and dance and flirt and stuff.
posted by Chunder at 2:51 AM on October 30, 2006

Drink does a lotta things for a lotta people.

Based on extensive personal research, going to your typical pub to drink bores the crap outta me and I find average pubs to be smelly, nasty places that are inherently depressing. One or two drinks in this type of place makes me slow and melancholy.

On the other hand, if I'm at a great party with fantastic food and great conversation, one or two drinks will ramp me up more than mainlining black coffee.

Sometimes your starting mood may affecting the drinking experience. If I'm feeling relaxed and basically "up", a drink or two will make me feel a little mellow and happy. In a "down" I'll either go manic or start crying into my gin & tonic.

May I suggest that you vary these basic elements and conduct further research?
posted by ninazer0 at 2:55 AM on October 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

Damn, chunder beat me to it. And what an appropriate name!
posted by ninazer0 at 2:56 AM on October 30, 2006

Also, not everyone likes beer and wine!

Personally, I hate most wines and beers, but I'm a big fan of spirits... Have you had rum & coke, or vodka & OJ?

Also, n-th the comments about getting "shit-faced" sometime just to see how it feels... It is a bit different than one or two drinks!
posted by ranglin at 3:16 AM on October 30, 2006

I've never bought the argument about different alcohols (of the same proof) having different effects - seems largely psychological / situational - and those two factors surely have an influence on whatever alcoholic effects a person will experience.

You could try some other beverages, too: Coffee with Amaretto, Irish Creme, Kahlua, etc. is very pleasant in the colder months. Rumpleminze (peppermint scnapps) is also an excellent coffee adulterant, but requires a bit more moderation lest you become 'accidentally' drunk.
posted by unmake at 3:18 AM on October 30, 2006

thanks for suggesting "spirits", ranglin. I've stuck to wine and beer so far cause that's what most people seem to prefer. The other stuff just didn't come to mind.
posted by gregb1007 at 3:19 AM on October 30, 2006

kahlua + vodka over ice is fantastic [black russian btw]

another nice drink is amaretto and OJ.

spirits are the only thing i really drink. i just cant enjoy drinking lager/beer. the only time i will bother is at festivals and gigs.
posted by moochoo at 3:29 AM on October 30, 2006

It has long been recognised that alcohol affects different people in different ways. Here is Thomas Nashe, writing in 1592, describing eight kinds of drinker:
“The first is ape-drunk, and he leaps and sings and hollows and danceth for the heavens; the second is lyon-drunk, and he flings the pots about the house, calls the hostess whore, breaks the glass-windows with his dagger, and is apt to quarrel with any man that speaks to him; the third is swine-drunk, heavy, lumpish, and sleepy, and cries for a little more drink and a few more clothes; the fourth is sheep-drunk, wise in his own conceit when he cannot bring forth a right word; the fifth is maudlen-drunk, when a fellow will weep for kindness in the midst of his drink, and kiss you, saying, ‘By God! captain, I love thee; go thy ways, thou dost not think so often of me, as I do of thee: I would (if it pleased God) I could not love thee so well as I do,’ and then he puts his finger in his eye and cries. The sixth is martin-drunk, when a man is drunk, and drinks himself sober ere he stir; the seventh is goat-drunk, when in his drunkenness he hath no mind but on lechery. The eighth is fox-drunk, when he is crafty-drunk, as many of the Dutchmen be, which will never bargain but when they are drunk. All these species, and more, I have seen practised in one company at one sitting; when I have been permitted to remain sober amongst them only to note their several humours.”
As for myself, I'm oftenest (but not always) a drowsy swine-drunk or sheep-drunk, but it’s a drowsiness I find pleasant. Like others have said, if you've always just stuck at a drink or two, you will not have felt the full range of booze’s effects. By all means sample a variety of drinks in a variety of amounts & situations: but don’t be disheartened if you still don’t get it—just because it’s a very popular posion doesn’t mean you have to like it.
posted by misteraitch at 3:35 AM on October 30, 2006 [30 favorites]

Since it essentially, even in small quantities, rots your brain, then take this opportunity to just not drink at all.

Plus, you'll have many interesting experiences when relating your new preference for none-at-all to others, from awe to rage.
posted by ewkpates at 3:42 AM on October 30, 2006

Since it essentially, even in small quantities, rots your brain


Alcohol Myths & Facts Quiz
Q: Even moderate consumption of alcohol kills brain cells and impairs cognitive functioning.
A: Myth. Moderate consumption of alcohol does not destroy brain cells and is often associated with improved cognitive functioning. This long-standing and popular myth is based on the fact that long-term, heavy drinking can destroy brain cells and impair cognition.
posted by unmake at 3:47 AM on October 30, 2006

Ewkpates is still right enoigh. Count your blessings that you don't need it to get through your day or to socialize.

Nurse one if you like, hold a club soda with a lime in it; watch others become swine and sheep and apes. You'll be punished for thinking for yourself, but not in any way that matters.
posted by Phred182 at 4:23 AM on October 30, 2006

Well, you have to be around interesting people
posted by delmoi at 4:24 AM on October 30, 2006

I've never bought the argument about different alcohols (of the same proof) having different effects

Wow, you've never spent a whole night on gin, have you?
posted by penguin pie at 4:30 AM on October 30, 2006

This used to happen to me, but then I learned to pick and choose my boozes very carefully. There also is a problem if you don't drink enough, and if you're only having one drink this, THIS IS THE PROBLEM.

One glass of wine and I'm taking a nap. Two glasses of wine and I'm bubbly and a little loud. And I'm a ruther small girl. I would reccomend switching to vodka tonics until you sort this out ;)
posted by shownomercy at 4:53 AM on October 30, 2006

Wow, you've never spent a whole night on gin, have you?

Heartily seconded. I couldn't touch gin for a year after that. Anyway, try vodka mixed with something you like the taste of; if you discover you just don't enjoy drinking, then sip club soda and take surreptitious notes, like Nashe! (Great quote, misteraitch, and I've known all those guys myself.)
posted by languagehat at 6:12 AM on October 30, 2006

Yeah, the science behind the improvement of short term memory is a) dubious; and b) further suspicious when it has been clearly demonstrated that long term consumption actually rots your brain, or just drinking young.

Also in the news: smoking improves cardiovascular performance; absinth improves IQ; booze good for your marriage.
posted by ewkpates at 6:38 AM on October 30, 2006

Alcohol does different things to different people. Not everyone mellows out and becomes more kind; some people get violent, some get horny, some get quiet, me, I turn into an (even more) belligerent loudmouth. Sleepiness and slowness may just be how you're affected. Why try to change it? Just don't drink--or drink minimally.

However, if you are dead-set on enjoying getting smashed, drink more. Believe me, after ten shots you'll feel a lot different.
posted by schroedinger at 6:49 AM on October 30, 2006

I know a woman who says lacks some enzyme in her stomach that processes alcohol and so can't get drunk. She drinks anyway, because she likes the tastes, but never gets drunk. I don't suppose you're a candidate for that are you? Like maybe you experience some side effects but not intoxication? Buy yourself a 12 pack and see. I may try the same thing this weekend, you know, just to double check!
posted by kookoobirdz at 7:05 AM on October 30, 2006

Slightly off-topic, but can those who have hinted at gin's devilish ways elaborate as to what you experienced? I have had gin, of course, but never to the point that I could tell a good story from it. But I'd love to hear one! What sets it apart?
posted by Bud Dickman at 7:20 AM on October 30, 2006

Well, I called an ex-fiance in the middle of the night (and got her father—I'm deeply grateful I don't have any memory of the ensuing conversation), and the next morning I reeked of gin even after a long hot shower, and when I staggered in to work they took one look at me and made me lie down in the break room to recover. Even boilermakers never messed me up that badly.
posted by languagehat at 7:41 AM on October 30, 2006

I doubt that you're doing anything 'wrong' - and i doubt that increasing your 'dosage' is a reasonable solution.

Many people do not find enjoyment in the act of social drinking itself - in the same way that many people do not find enjoyment in playing tennis, competitive back-shaving or knitting. The best solution is not to 'fix' your social drinking - its to pick something else to do.
posted by Fuka at 7:49 AM on October 30, 2006

Gin just makes one maudlin and a little crazy. The worst thing is that it's all I can taste the next morning and no amount of listerene can shift it. It comes out of every pore for hours afterwards. I have 'friends' whom I've met for drinks in London the night before a transatlantic flight who have successfully convinced me (on more than one occasion!) to have some G&T's after a night on the sauce. Standing at check-in and going through all those security checks after a good old 'gin-ing' is not pleasant. Not pleasant at all.
posted by ob at 8:01 AM on October 30, 2006

On the other hand, a very good friend of mine swears by gin and drinks it neat. This is possible with some nice, specialty gins such as Hendrick's or Plymouth gin, but he does this with all gins.
All Gins.
I cannot dissuade people enough from doing this.
posted by ob at 8:07 AM on October 30, 2006

If you do not enjoy drinking alcohol--don't!

Why force yourself into something that your body/mind obviously doesn't care for? For heaven's sake, drink coffee or non-alcoholic drinks if you're out in a social setting. The idea is to enjoy yourself with friends, or the music, right?

The advice to keep trying different types of liquor is something I would not add to.

You are certainly not the only person I know who finds that alcohol doesn't agree with him/herself. My husband can't even stand the smell of it, and hence, hasn't had alcohol in his life (perhaps excepting wine in some foods), and his cousin gets terrible headaches and feels sick from as little as two beers.

I'm 41, and I would not think anything less (or even that it's remarkable) of a person who chose not to drink while out at dinner, or whatever. If you are among a social group where you feel pressure to join in, perhaps think that over. Someone who is not drinking is invaluable--as a designated driver or the voice of reason as the night wears on.

As an aside, the older I get, the more I find alcohol tends to make me sleepy and sluggish, myself. It's a depressant. I also find that I can go a month or more without having a drink or even wanting once, then feel like a rye and coke or two before dinner, or even getting a little bit (or a lot) happy. Sometimes I want to, most of the time, I don't. I certainly wouldn't force myself to have two glasses of wine after work just because I thought I should, when in fact, what I want is a cup of tea or a diet root beer.
posted by Savannah at 8:13 AM on October 30, 2006

I doubt that you're doing anything 'wrong' - and I doubt that increasing your 'dosage' is a reasonable solution.

Agreed. It's okay, gregb1007 -- you're just not a boozer. IMO this is an asset, not a liability.
posted by Rash at 8:24 AM on October 30, 2006

Just don't drink alcohol. You will save yourself thousands of dollars over the course of your life. Get yourself a Perrier with Rose's Lime.....Yummy!.
posted by jasondigitized at 8:33 AM on October 30, 2006

Indeed. If you don't enjoy drinking then don't drink. Then you won't ever experience a hangover (which, quite frankly, is not character-building in any way, so you're really not missing out!!!)
posted by ob at 8:49 AM on October 30, 2006

Before you give up completely, I would -- at least once -- just try to have, say, five or six drinks and see what you think. It's a completely different experience than having one or two (assuming your tolerance is low). (NOTE: I'm not encouraging you to drink so much you get sick, but I think that five drinks at a normal pace should be OK even for someone with low tolerance.)
posted by pardonyou? at 9:01 AM on October 30, 2006

Gin usually helps me maintain a good level of crazy over the course of 6 hours or so. A few gin martinis and I'm set. Although I avoid tequila at all costs. It makes me ill... and mean. In fact, tequila makes most people I know very angry and mean.

If you can stand jagermeister, I recommend a few jager bombs to get you started. This is the only thing I can drink mass quantities of through the night without getting sick. If you can't stand jager, try an O-bomb (bacardi O and red bull). It goes down very easy.

Perhaps it's a quantity issue? Depending on what I've had to eat that day, sometimes I just don't feel like drinking beer - I feel too full and bloated, which makes me want to go home and nap. Maybe you would have to drink 5 beers to get the level of drunky you're looking for, and that may just be too much... Try some mixed drinks or shots, but use the beer to maintain between shots.

Also, I try to avoid red wine if I want to be up all night. If I'm going out, I don't order wine anyway. For a night at home where you would like to have some wine, stick to whites. They usually give me less of an urge to nap. Riesling is particularly good. I'm also a big fan of champage/sparkling wine. I usually go with an asti that runs about $10-20 per bottle.
posted by youngergirl44 at 9:12 AM on October 30, 2006

Funny youngergirl44, I was just about to suggest the opposite - that perhaps it's a quality issue. (Though quantity certainly has something to do with it too.)

For years I only drank cheap wine (white zinfandel is notoriously bad - gives a nasty headache too) and the cheapest mixed drinks the bar had to offer and would get incredibly sleepy after 1 or 2 drinks. In the last two years I've developed a taste for good red wine and higher quality spirits (single malt scotch, mmm) and can now maintain a nice buzz for hours without that overwhelming sluggishness and with minimal morning-after-effects. I've also heard that drinks with a higher sugar content can contribute to the headache/ sleepiness/ hangover effect too, but have no research to back that up.

I don't think it's just a matter of developing a tolerance either. Just last week I accidentally ordered the house margarita instead of the Cadillac at my favorite Mexican restaurant and was startled at how hard it hit me and how quickly, I barely stayed awake through dinner!
posted by platinum at 1:44 AM on October 31, 2006

Before you give up completely, I would -- at least once -- just try to have, say, five or six drinks and see what you think. It's a completely different experience than having one or two (assuming your tolerance is low). (NOTE: I'm not encouraging you to drink so much you get sick, but I think that five drinks at a normal pace should be OK even for someone with low tolerance.)

This comment summarises well what I was saying previously. I wasn't advocating that you force yourself to do something you didn't want to do, but it seemed more like you were after suggestions to help enjoy alcohol more (rather than giving it up) and one possibility is to try -- just for the heck of it -- drinking a little bit more and seeing how that affects you!

(Note: I'm not a heavy drinker at all. I've got a half-finished bottle of Jim Beam in my pantry that's been there since I moved states! But, when I got really drunk on my bucks night I finally realised why some people like drinking, so I think it's worth giving it a try, and it doesn't mean you have to become a nightly boozer post-drunk-day (I didn't!))
posted by ranglin at 1:45 AM on October 31, 2006

Gin all night (instead of just an ice-breaker or two) just seems to make people weep...

I remember spending Hogmanay in Edinburgh before they decided to close the city centre and make it ticket-only... I was stuck on the Mound in the middle of a huge crush, which was, to be fair, pretty frightening - kept losing my footing and thinking I was going to be trampled underfoot as the crowd swung from side to side.
But when I finally broke free (and having lost all my friends), instead of being filled with elation and freedom, like a good cheery-beer-drunk would have done, I remember being slumped in a shop doorway crying, trying to tell two complete strangers "It's just horrible down there, don't gooooo," as if I'd just escaped a scene of complete death and destruction. When I looked down and realised I'd drunk all of laaarge bottle of gin and tonic I'd been dragging round, I realised *that* was why I was so upset, picked myself up and brushed myself down, and walked to my friend's house in a calm and orderly manner.

Since then, I generally save gin for a quick livener, then follow it up with beer.
posted by penguin pie at 5:07 PM on November 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

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