Saturday, June 03, 2006

Let's open this up for discussion

What do you consider to be "drunk"? If you've ever been drunk, how do you know when you're drunk (or do you not know until the next day)? How do you know when someone else is drunk?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines drunk (adjective form) as:
1 a : having the faculties impaired by alcohol.
My problem with this definition is that it feels overly vague; what exactly do they mean by "impaired"? Obviously someone who falls over is drunk; what about someone who laughs at stupid jokes? Or someone who finally gets the courage to ask that one girl to dance?

Yesterday Sasha asked me "Were you drunk last night?" and I had to say "I don't know," just because I'm not sure if what I do counts as being drunk or not. On the rare occasions where I have more than two drinks I reach a state where the alcohol is definitely affecting my mood and decision-making: I'm more upbeat, chatty, and impulsive than usual. But I've never gotten sick the next day, never lost my balance or had blackouts, never done anything that I regretted in the morning. So: was I drunk, because my faculties were affected by alcohol? Or are there other factors involved?

I'd like to hear people's thoughts on the subject. Feel free to post anonymously if you like.


  1. A good question. In short, is a "buzz" drunk?

    Well, put bluntly yes. Medically, the moment you have more than 1 drink in an hour, the excess alcohol begins to affect your system.

    However, as anyone who drinks knows, a buzz rarely seriously affects your actions. You can walk in a straight line, talk coherently, and avoid stupid activities.

    The line comes where you want to set it. For some, this is when their speech slurs the first time. For others, when they can't speak without slurring, and for others when they wake up in the morning.

    The fact is that drunk is a state of mind. If you think to yourself "Man, am I drunk" you are. If you're at a buzzed state and you think that you're buzzed, then you are not drunk.

    You may be more loose and carefree. This is not due to the alcohol at this state. The alcohol simply provides the excuse. If something doesn't go as planned (like asking the girl to dance), you would have never asked if you 'hadn't been drinking'. You might tell someone off, but it's 'because i had a bit too much'. Alcohol becomes an excuse for actions or behaviors you'd normally avoid, but really want to do.

    And that, brother, is why they call it Liquid Courage.

  2. Huh, cool... thanks for the thoughts. See, this is the sort of wisdom I missed out on by not drinking heavily in college. :-) I think part of my hang-up is that I'm used to hearing "drunk" universally used as a pejorative, so it doesn't sound right when I attach it to an experience that (at least for me) doesn't really have a negative side.

    My follow-up question was actually going to deal with just what "buzz" is - does "buzz" just mean feeling happy after consuming alcohol, or does it imply the sort of consciousness alteration we tend to associate with illegal narcotics? Your comments seem to align it with the former.

    Thanks again, anonymous. Anyone else?