Alcohol prompts risky drunk dialing

Imagine it’s been a long night and you’ve got a couple of drinks in your stomach. Now you may start to think—think about that one person who gets to you, be it in an amorous or antagonistic fashion, and you realize that you must tell them how you feel because it absolutely cannot wait.

So you decide to text them.

Then you wake up the next morning and read what you wrote through a sober lens. You may find humor in the recollections or you may feel untold shame at your conduct of the previous evening.

Regardless, you put yourself out there and declared your voice loud and clear. At least you can find a reprieve in that admission. This begs the question, however, why do we only send those texts that tell people how we really feel when we are drunk?

Associate professor of psychology at the University of Missouri Bruce Bartholow seems to have answered this question.

In a 2014 study, Bartholow found that alcohol caused people to stop caring about the potential negative results of their actions, essentially silencing the mental fire alarm we have that goes off when we make a mistake. 

Test subjects ingested alcohol and then completed an exercise forcing them to make mistakes. When compared to the control group, the experimental group was found to recognize their blunders, but they exhibited far less inhibition when it came to making those errors.

This cavalier attitude of the mind’s neurotic hindrances is easily observable, both in ourselves and in our inebriated companions.

The entire notion behind the act of drunk texting reveals a desire for catharsis and for change. We want to initiate a new step in a relationship, whether it is a testimonial of love or a declaration of hate. So long as we say what we feel, we find satisfaction.

But as Bartholow points out in his research, our sober minds keep us from following up on these desires. We are inundated with a mass of what-ifs, barring us from seeing the silver linings by only focusing on the “darker greys.”  

Alcohol nullifies these fears, forcing us to confront our own insecurities and to decide whether we will submit to them once more. Sometimes we come out of the situation having sent that text message or having made that phone call; we found ourselves desiring a change and we endeavored to manifest that change. 

People often say that drunk words are sober thoughts. I agree with this affirmation, but it is not to say that this is an absolute. Sober words can be sober thoughts. You just have to be willing to make peace with your desire for change. Otherwise, we will always be left with those questions of what could have been.