Alcohol Related

Subsections below:

  • Longterm effects of alcohol on brain and body
  • Hangover
  • Incidents over judgement, or robbery
  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and dealing with addiction

    Effects of Alcohol

    Not long after I first arrived in Thailand, I started to drink alcohol more frequently that I had before, especially if I went out with friends and we did the rounds at various places. After some time, I noticed the effects on how I felt generally both physically and mentally, and thought it may be affecting my work performance but wasn't sure. Some time later, I eventually quit drinking altogether, after reading some of the professional scientific literature on the effects of alcohol on the brain. But before that:

    What really struck me was observing the effects of alcohol on others. Among working people new to Bangkok who drank a lot, I noticed a clear and significant degradation of work performance in some of them over time, though in some others it was not obvious. In both nonworking and working people, of those who drank a lot of alcohol, I observed during their sober periods:

    • Less clarity of thought, as regards understanding something correctly
    • Increasing mental laziness to put effort into understanding things
    • More mistakes
    • Faults in converting short term memory into long term memory
    • Less ability to control emotions, less thought over feelings
    • Lessening self-control
    • Increasing propensity to express frustrations and sometimes lash out at others

    In some of the worse cases, it became tedious to work with some people. The mistakes. The lack of effort to understand things correctly and completely, and do things right. The double checking later that they still understand things correctly. Their irritability and short fuse at times. It wasn't just my observations, as some other people had commented likewise. I have also seen high level people fired by their bosses, which I saw as predictable and just a matter of time, and in many cases the person fired still denied a drinking problem and the full effects of that.

    When I have tried to gently raise the topic, in a preventative way before problems get more serious, some people acknowledge this and decided to cut back on drinking, but some others were in denial, or else talked kind've like life is for fun, alcohol is an important part of their lives, and that's the kind of life they want to live.

    Of course, many people just do whatever they feel like doing, and follow their instincts/emotions without much of an intellectual life. Many already have automatic income and don't need to work, and also don't have any meaningful projects in life. Many are just indulgent, hedonistic, and narcissistic. They are usually hopeless, and I steer clear of them. However, I do try to help people who use their intellect and are otherwise considerate and good people.

    I knew many people who felt like I did after drinking a bit too much, and quit altogether, e.g., drinking just soda water socially. That was really good to see.

    Let me make this clear: You are your brain. It is your existence and quality of life.

    Eventually, I did some scientific research on the effects of alcohol on the brain. It's important to get past the mass media coverage of alcohol which may be biased, and the wishful thinking hearsay of people who enjoy drinking, and look at the actual scientific data. It is stunning. The scientific research showed me that the effects were much worse than I thought, though reversible in cases which weren't too advanced, though slow to reverse.

    It was not difficult for me to quit immediately, after reading that, but I am aware that many other people have a genetic vulnerability or have developed an addiction which is difficult to break. The addiction can be psychological, lifestyle, social, or biological. Some people just have a genetic makeup which makes them more attracted to alcohol.

    It is important to take care of your brain. This also includes good sleep, quality diet, exercise, avoiding unnecessary stresses, and good lifestyle socially and intellectually when alone. This is beyond the scope of this section, but I have also noticed that many people who drink a lot of alcohol also have issues with some of these things, too.

    Chronic alcohol use weakens your immune system, which can make you more vulnerable to serious diseases, which can in turn further affect mental and physical performance.

    Some hard driving people still perform okay with substance abuse, but it seems to be because they are obsessive about doing things completely and well. I would guess achieving their goals takes a lot more effort than if they were not also drinking. I'm also aware that alcohol can relieve a lot of stress, which applied to me at some times in my life before.

    However, most people seem to drink because it gives them that initial happiness lift, an initial effect of alcohol. Depressed people may crave alcohol for that. It also reduces inhibitions, which helps some people to socialize. However, there are other ways in lifestyle to address these matters, and methods for self-improvement.

    Your brain is your hardware, and your thinking habits and learning are your software. We need to always work on both.

    As noted elsewhere, I am a long time health food eater (since university years), but that wasn't enough to counter alcohol consumption. After a few years of no alcohol, adding in a lot more exercise, and paying better attention to diet, I feel a lot sharper, despite being older. Sometimes, I look back on those years and am astounded by some of the little stupid and reckless things I did, things which I wouldn't even consider now. About some of them, I didn't even realize the stupidity until years later. Most of them were while under the influence of alcohol, and some of them were when I was sober but in that drinking phase of my life.

    Thank goodness I'm well beyond that. I am also happier, much sharper despite being older, and tend to manage things in my business and personal lives much better. During difficult moments, I'm also more consistent in my temperament, and don't feel the roller coaster extremes like I occasionally did before.

    Some other people are into dramas and emotions, like that's what makes them feel alive, their emotional instincts, not their intellect. They may get into substance abuse to enhance those emotional experiences. And dive into the wild life incessantly.

    Hangover

    One of the common things I used to hear discussed among drinking buddies is how to best deal with a hangover.

    One of the best ways to minimize and sometimes even avoid a hangover is to take vitamin C before you go to sleep. 1000 milligrams is a pretty hefty dose. Some people take more. Alcohol produces chemicals in your blood stream that cause problems in the liver. Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant that can neutralize a significant percentage of the chemicals that cause these effects. Most other vitamins are not of much help.

    Drinking fluid before you go to sleep can also help, e.g., a simple soft drink or, better yet, an electrolyte beverage such as a sport drink. Milk and other heavy fluids is questionable.

    If you wake up with a hangover, the best thing is an electrolyte beverage. It's a good idea to stock up the shelf with some of the bottled sports drinks for a hangover day, or the powdered electrolyte beverage. In the absence of these, a sweet soft drink will go down easiest, followed by water. Milk is much more likely to come back up.

    If you can keep fluids down, then it's good to have some tylenol in stock.

    If you have difficulty keeping food down, then you must start with simple starches such as dry toast. At the other extreme, fats and proteins are hard to digest and are much more likely to come back up.

    The main serious risk is dehydration. If you're feeling really bad, you will feel a lot better if you go to the hospital and get a bag or two of fluid intravenously.

    Incidents Over Bad Judgement, or Robbery

    Some ex-pats have gotten into trouble when intoxicated. Rarely, but sometimes, it's because a thief takes advantage of your intoxicated nature, especially if you're alone. Usually, it is just judgement related, such as not using a condom with a prostitute, bringing home an unaccountable prostitute who drugs you for a robbery of your home, getting into a brawl, saying regrettable things to others or in public, sending regrettable e-mails and chat messages, etc. It helps to understand the effects of alcohol on humans, and set down some rules for yourself before you go drink.

    Certain drugs can be very harmful or lethal when taken with alcohol.

    Alcoholics Anonymous

    There are chapters of Alcoholics Anonymous in Thailand. I've never been to one and I don't know how they work, but I can imagine the guidance and social support they may provide.

    On the other hand, I did the opposite when I stopped drinking -- I stopped hanging out with my harder drinking friends, spent a lot more time with people who didn't drink, and simply moved on to other kinds of activities whereby I didn't even think of drinking. I basically turned the corner, didn't look back, and moved on.

    Like any addiction, it is important to understand the consequences. In my opinion, it is best not to obsess about the addiction but to focus on moving on to other things which are important to you or which you enjoy doing, which kind've transcends and keeps your mind off of the addiction.

    A change in scenery is a good way to turn a corner. So is a change in social community if that is an issue. There are many good people and groups here in Thailand. This is one of the things which I like -- the diversity of expats from all around the world, and a lot of nice and proper Thai people of good upbringing and education.

    Self improvement and seeking out alternatives in life are good lifelong goals.




     > Family Health and WellBeing > Alcohol Related



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