5 Ways Your Body Tells You The Party is Over
If we took a poll of the general population and asked them what one should prioritize in their 20s, we’re bound to get a variety of answers: discovering one’s self, laying the foundations for one’s career, finding love and starting a family, or simply having fun and enjoying your youth. Just as the advice we receive would vary, so could the way we choose to interpret such advice; for some people, laying the foundations of one’s career would mean focusing on education and obtaining a degree. Others would elect a more hands-on approach, learning through trial and error.
Variation is fine, of course- that particular time in life is when most of us truly come into ourselves and figuring out our paths in life. The trouble begins at the thin line between finding your own path and completely deviating off course. While it’s fine to have fun and enjoy your youth, over indulging in the party lifestyle negatively affects the other aspects of your life such as your interpersonal relationships, financial well-being, and, yes, your health.
The foolishness of youth often leads us to believe these ramifications are years, even decades off- this isn’t true. In fact, your body is talking to you now, trying to warn you of imminent dangers: here are 5 ways your body tells you the party is over.
#1: Longer, worsening hangovers
“Hangovers are signs of a good time!”
Have you heard that saying before? Have you said it in order to excuse your excessive alcohol consumption? Either way, you’re wrong: hangovers are your body’s first being warning sign. Have you ever wondered why the physical symptoms associated with overuse of alcohol is called alcohol poisoning not overdosing? It’s not because alcohol is in any way safer than the hard street drugs we often associate with overdoses (because it’s not), but because of what alcohol actually does to your body: it poisons it.
That hangover you’re nursing? That’s practically pre-alcohol poisoning. Plus, the worse they are and the longer they linger, the more evidence they provide of the lasting damage your body is suffering because of your alcohol consumption.
Too often I’ve heard people in my peer group laughing away concerns about hangovers as ‘no big deal’ and ‘the price you pay for having fun’- I have even heard people joking about spending days in the hospital because of alcohol poisoning. I just don’t get the joke: where in this is it funny that your body nearly killed itself because of your need to be drunk in order to have fun?
Need a more dramatic sign that your body is going to give up on your hard-partying ways? How’s this for one: waking up with a blinding headache, the taste of bile in your mouth, and no recollection of what happened to you after that third shot of tequilla. Nearly everyone who frequents the party scene knows one of these people: they blackout nearly as soon as they begin drinking, followed by insane, uncharacteristic antics. Sometimes those things are dangerous, violent, or sexually aggressive, but people tend to excuse them as a “they’re drunk, they don’t know any better.”
Unfortunately, blackouts are harmful in two ways: the blackout itself, and the aftermath. It’s important to understand that it takes a lot in order for one to lose consciousness, even if you are not physically incapacitated. Blackouts due to drinking are a serious symptom of the damage alcohol is doing to your brain; it literally blocks your brain’s ability to form short-term memories. That in itself is cause for true and genuine fear: when you’re blackout drunk, any and everything could happen to you. You are at the mercy of those around you to survive- do you trust your friends that much? Strangers?
I didn’t think so.
Partying takes a lot out of you. It’s not uncommon to have a late start to your day following a night of heavy drinking or drug use; however, when lethargy and disinterest becomes part of your daily ritual, it’s time to take a serious break. It’s okay to be tired, especially after a busy work or school week. Waking up and starting your day at 9 or 10 am is acceptable a few times- 3 pm? 5 pm? Not so much.
When your body begins to succumb under the effects of alcohol and drugs, the majority of your energy preserves go to attempting to rectify that damage. You may feel like you have a particularly nasty strain of the flu or common cold; however, there are other, more concerning symptoms you should be mindful of, such as:
- irregular heartbeat
- muscle weakness
- abdominal pain
- difficulty breathing
- confusion or difficulty focusing
- chest pain
The presence of these types of symptoms are a red flag for more serious health complications to come such as organ damage or failure; don’t ignore them, early intervention could save your life.
#4: Difficulty Performing Basic Tasks
It’s okay to be scatter brained every once in awhile: forgetting where your keys are, what the date is, the minute details of a story from years ago, etc. However, when your drinking or drug use begins to negatively effect your day to day life it’s time to reconsider your priorities. As I mentioned before, the effects of alcohol or drugs on your brain can cause serious damage. While the damage caused during blackouts may seem temporary, when you lose the ability to recall simple things or complete basic tasks, pay attention to the signs.
This particular sign is probably more obvious to your close friends and family members, but if you find that you’re suddenly clumsier than usual or needing to be continuously reminded of the task at hand, that’s a bright red flag. Trouble with fine motor skills or staying on task makes even the simplest tasks a thousand times harder.
Damage to the neuro-receptors and transmitters in the brain responsible for forming short and long-term memory cannot not be repaired, only improved upon. Allowing the damage to further disintegrate your brain can lead to physical symptoms such as tremors, loss of balance, difficulty concentrating, and even seizure inducing disorders. On top of that, imbalances in the brain’s chemistry can cause moodiness, depression, anxiety, paranoia, and other emotional troubles.
The reason behind substance abuse isn’t always to party; sometimes it’s for relaxation or to combat undiagnosed and untreated mental health issues. And then sometimes it’s just a matter of getting to sleep. We’ve all heard of night caps, right?
The problem with that is at the very root of addiction and substance abuse itself: as your body becomes more tolerant of illicit substances, it requires more intake to get the same desired effects. Where it once took only one or two drinks to produce a buzz, now you have to nearly empty a bottle on your own in order to feel the same feelings. Eventually the amount you need to intake to get high or drunk will surpass your body’s tolerance limit, which leads to overdoses.
The opposite end of the spectrum is much the same thing: when you stop using something which causes pleasure or relaxation or sleep, it becomes harder for your body to naturally achieve these states.
It all boils down to your brain chemistry: when you are consuming or injecting a substance which enhances the production of a chemical such as dopamine in the brain, your body slows down the natural process for producing said chemical. However, when you cease use of drugs or alcohol, your brain does not automatically resume normal function. A major side effect of this is often insomnia. Interruptions in brain function are serious; sleep is vital to keeping your mind sharp, your brain healthy, and your body functioning. A night or two of restlessness can be accounted to a number of things, but when your lack of sleep is causing negative health effects, it’s time to dive into why.
What other ways does your body tell you it’s time to slow down on partying? Let us know in the comments!
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About the Author
Alexandrea Holder is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Alexandrea enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.