On Alcohol

Written by Mike Parish, Illustrated by Dan Tarnowski
On Alcohol

Like some people and White Russians, alcohol and I don’t mix. I wish I could be one of those guys that work in a microbrewery and is incredibly psyched about beer and tie-dye t-shirts but drinking alcohol is like playing Russian roulette with a fully loaded revolver. I take a chance and it always kills me.

The occasional drink with dinner was something I used to enjoy but I have since given it up. Wine was my drink of choice because it produces slightly different effects than its counterparts; I felt a warm sensation in my chest that slowly engulfed the rest of my insides and made me feel as if I was glowing.

But the problem with any alcohol is that the initial buzz is the best part. After that feeling, the idea is to try and maintain it but one can never maintain it. The first drink produces the desired effect because it acts upon a sober-self. Subsequent drinks act upon the already influenced, so the strongest “kick” is when it first kicks in. After that as they say, it’s all down hill from there.

For me, alcohol dulls a level of mental and physical acuity that I would rather maintain. The day after having a drink or two, I never feel as sharp as I once did. It takes me a day or so to bounce back to my equilibrium. Too, with alcohol being a depressant, it works on the body in a number of ways in the moment and over time, including the slow down of mental processes and judgment and physical, bodily functions as well.

People have been drinking alcohol forever. The first people who probably got drunk were hunter-gatherers who ate rotting fruit that had fermented. Some time after that with ensuing agrarianism, we figured out how to ferment certain domesticated plants and we’ve been hooked ever since.

Alcohol has always been a celebratory drink and it has heavy ties with human history. It seems no matter what era you think of, there is alcohol along side the pharaohs and kings, Crusaders and 18th century New Englanders. Given this sense of familiarity, alcohol is a normal part of our lives. This aside, it is surprising that such a powerful substance can be found and bought on the shelves of any nearby store.

A reason why alcohol is so commonly accepted is because its effects can be measured in a specific time period; after that, as long as one drinks enough water to re-hydrate, alcohol’s effects don’t last unless one continues to drink it. Mind altering substances and opiates on the other hand can cause physical, long-lasting and permanent changes to brain chemistry that pharmacologists have no idea how to fix. Once the machine that is the brain gets busted, there’s not much hope in having it operate the way it once did.

Like food and water and medicine, alcohol is another type of input we can enter into our bodies. Unlike satisfying hunger or thirst, alcohol really serves no purpose; it is not something our bodies need. Where as once some peoples gained nutritional benefits, there are much better sources and healthier foods readily available to get those nutrients today.

Alcohol is a great thing to have and enjoy and it is amazing that for short amounts of time it can change our outlooks and mindsets and literal ways of viewing the world. Given the total usage of alcohol over the course of human history, is it possible that all of these small changes have caused a synergistic result, a situation of 2+2 equaling 5? As the microorganisms that cause fermentation evolve, do they change something inside of us?

For better or worse, alcohol is here and it’s here to stay. Though the modern experience may be different than the experience of those that have come before, the reasons for recreational usage are still the same: men and women. There are two kinds of people in this world and you’re one of them.

This entry was posted in On Lives, Short. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.