Citation: Unfortunate. "Then and Now: An Experience with Alcohol (exp21455)". Erowid.org. Feb 19, 2003. erowid.org/exp/21455
I am only writing from my own experience here; yours may be different.
1) ---Its effects on me during the years I 'discovered' it---
I first got drunk at the age of 17. I remember the afternoon well. I had finished school and was bored. I would be alone for at least a couple of hours. I stole some sherry from the cupboard and drank some.
I felt 'inflated' and exhilerated. My head spun slightly, but my mind was still the same mind that I used in daily life. I had not changed; but my point of view was different. I felt relaxed and confident. I felt silly. I felt like dancing around and hugging people. And I 'recognized' the feeling somehow. The ludicrous thought that in a previous life I was an alcoholic dashed through my mind. Basically my mood was enhanced. When I looked at the bottle of sherry, I thought, 'Where have you been all my life?'
I felt full of myself. I could easily picture myself in impressive situations, for instance imagining myself as lead guitarist and genius in my favourite band. It was easy to fall into silent egocentric reverie when drunk (it still is, for me, today). Alcohol was like a cross between ecstasy and cocaine. Some features of both. It is interesting that alcohol's deadening effects, similar in some ways to tranquilisers, never manifested themselves to me until many years later. When drunk, I was infused with energy and could only celebrate life. Of course, drinking too much resulted in head-spins and early nights, so to that extent I was aware that alcohol slows things down. But to that extent only. In all other respects, alcohol was a pure stimulant.
I soon discovered that, when drunk, the desire for the 'new' and 'innovative' fades, and much pleasure is derived from the 'familiar'. This is no more startlingly illustrated that by music. When drunk, I wanted only to hear songs I'd heard before; I had no patience to sit through an 'unproven' clump of songs off a new album. I believe this effect of alcohol is not unusual and explains the predominance in pubs of 'oldies' at the jukebox. And it's not to say that the power of these older, more familiar songs diminishes when drunk; to the contrary, I could see infinite emotions in my favourite tunes. It was merely a change in preference.
A 'hangover' is primarily dehydration. There's little else to it. Some people react to this dehydration differently. Keeping hydrated, I can avoid feeling bad the next day.
So, euphoria, light-headedness and relaxation were the effects of alcohol when I was a teenager.
2) ---The change in my worldview that occurred after my first experiences---
I remember the exhilerated, relieved phone call I made to my friend the first time I took alcohol: 'I'm drunk! You're never going to believe this, I'm drunk!' Sounds stupid but the meaning, which I never expressed, was more profound: 'I've realized that there's more to life! There are other states of conciousness! What does philosophy have to say about this fact? And it's a FACT! I just proved it. I know it to be true, since I am drunk myself right now. First-hand knowledge. What is the Universe?'
A period in my life occurred where the 'doors opened'. I had renewed zest for life in the long term. I tried other drugs too, many with dreadful results (marijuana especially). Alcohol helped me with girls. It helped me relate to others. It improved my confidence (at times, too much). It made me into a more intersting person, to be honest.
3) ---What its effects on me are now, eleven years after I first got drunk---
What does alcohol do to me now? I have been through periods where I haven't touched a glass for months; I have been through periods where hardly a night passes without getting drunk. I am more aware that the 'me' that I experience when drunk is not, in fact, the 'me' that others around me experience. To some people, that would be crushing; to me it is merely interesting. A selfish guy, I suppose.
More importantly, the euphoric effects of alcohol, no matter what the dose, have diminished profoundly. Whereas I could once be assured of a great time simply by virtue of drinking a bottle of champagne, I now find that the same bottle will more likely than not send me to sleep, with a depressed and anxious day to follow.
I have reached a point where I simply cannot understand grown men and women who become dependent on this drug. It seems to me a useless substance whose effects on grown-ups, as opposed to alcohol-naive youngsters, is simply not worth the hangover. Not to mention that this stuff tastes terrible to me, in all its forms (beer, wine, spirits, liqueurs), no matter what people pretend! If it tasted good, people would be drunk more frequently than they are. It's nature's own bio-feedback mechanism. Keeps most of us under control. In the same way, I view the increasing likelihood of alcohol to result in a bad or indifferent experience as another 'autofeedback' situation.
Absinthe restores part of the euphoria and clarity of the original experience, but that is another story.
So there we go! That's what I think of the most common psychoactive substance (significantly psychoactive, I mean) that humans indulge in.
Peace to you.
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