Updated 25 January 2017

The 7 stages of drunkenness

One drink and the conversation starts flowing. Another drink and your confidence grows. Drink number three, and you’re ready to party! What comes after that?

One drink and the conversation starts flowing. Another drink and your confidence grows. Drink number three, and you’re ready to party!

Despite your initial good intentions, your evening ends in another drunk fest leaving you with that horrible morning-after hangover headache.

Here’s what happens to your brain as your night progresses and the alcohol flows:

The jovial phase

Drinking less than half a glass of alcohol an hour is enough to suppress the functions of the frontal lobes. At this stage your inhibitions, self-control, will power, ability to judge and concentration is affected.  Your self-confidence gets a boost and you become more talkative and daring.

The slurring phase

The parietal lobes at the sides and top of your head are next in line to experience the wave of alcohol. Your motor skills and speech become impaired. Performing simple tasks like talking and even buttoning a shirt becomes difficult.

The blurring phase

Alcohol has now reached the back of your head and the occipital lobe. Things are becoming blurry now. Your vision deteriorates and it becomes difficult to judge movement and distance.

The toppling over phase

Now you’re starting to lean on tables, walls, chairs, even unsuspecting people. At this point the alcohol wave hits your cerebellum. Your balance will be severely affected and you’ll have trouble standing.

The legless phase

Things just got real. By now you’re probably lying down somewhere in a drunken stupor (hopefully your bed). At this point your midbrain is affected. You’re paralytic, jittery and nauseous. Your reflexes are severely impaired. By this time you may have even lost consciousness.

The dead phase

You’re now in the danger zone. If you drink four doubles an hour, your blood alcohol level will quickly exceed 0,35 to 0,4 g/100 ml. This amount of alcohol will hit your brain with a vengeance and if it reaches your medulla oblongata (which controls breathing and blood circulation) you can die.

The morning after

You’re probably feeling like this: the night before is a either distant blur or every embarrassing thing you did is coming back to you. Your head is pounding, your mouth is dry and you’re probably wondering why everyone is talking so loud. To help your body recover drink lots of water, preferably with some glucose or sugar. This will counter dehydration and dilute the alcohol. The extra glucose will also help remove alcohol’s toxic waste product, acetaldehyde that causes the headache.


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