What’s up?! Should it be a question mark or an exclamation point? I kinda want it to sound like an exclamation, but it doesn’t seem right….oh well, off to a good start I guess… . I’m Dr. Uggo, your friendly neighbourhood medical student/enjoyer of fine substances of questionable legality. I will be walking you through the ins and outs of any and all fun-enhancers which you might come across while enjoying the festival scene. This section will try to cover in as few words as possible the ways in which drugs work, how to take them, how not to take them, what to expect, and what you can do to not make the whole festival a flaming, police-ridden disaster, all the while maybe even saving some poor dude’s life. Since I’m new to the whole blogging thing, it would be helpful if you’d give me some feedback in the comments section. You know, likes and dislikes. We cool? Cool.

So, without further ado, let’s get started.

This week I’ll be telling you about our favorite past time/aphrodisiac/social bonding tool – ethylic alcohol – also known simply as alcohol. Now, you’d think that since most of drink at least part-time, we would have it all figured out. Still, why does that skinny guy hold his liquor so easily when your buffed-out bodyguard spouse whom you’ve picked up last Friday literally needs to be picked up every time he downs one too many beers. The answer to this and many more: science!

Presentation

Booze comes in a variety of shapes, from your run-of-the-mill no-nonsense beer to that glow-in-the-dark mystery shot which in your imagination may or may not contain bull semen. Now, without sounding to patronizing, the serving size of any given beverage is inversely proportionate to its alcohol content. Simple stuff. That means that you’re basically ingesting the same amount of alcohol regardless of whether yo’re downing a glass of wine or a shot of tequila. Not accounting for your balls or lack thereof, there shouldn’t be any difference between shots at the main stage and a chill soiree in the hammocks. Keep this in mind, since it’s gonna be important later on.

As with all things sciencey, stuff gets complicated though.

 

Absorbtion

Alcohol is fat-soluble, which means it can easily dissolve in fats and pass through them. You know what’s made out of fat besides, you know, fat? Your brain. That’s right. Each one of your brain cells is incased in a fatty substance called myelin which kinda acts as an electrical insulator. You know what else is fat? Your stomach lining. This means that alcohol has an all-access backstage pass to basically everywhere in your body, and it’s prone to cutting in line. If you haven’t eaten in a while, about 20% of all ingested alcohol gets immediately absorbed through your stomach lining directly into the bloodstream. That means that if you drink on an empty stomach, you’re gonna get really drunk really fast. This absorbtion drops rapidly if you’ve recently eaten, especially if you’ve eaten something high in protein (do I smell an endorsement from the local kebab joint?) – basically meat. If on an empty stomach you’re gonna get a peak BAC (that’s blood alcohol concentration) by around 30 minutes to one hour after drinking, eating can delay your peak anywhere from one to six hours. Keep that in mind next time you mention that beer is a food.

A slew of other things can mess with the way your body takes up alcohol, the weirdest of them being the strength of your drink. Before rolling your eyes saying “duh!”, let me explain, since it’s not what you may think. Strong drinks get you drunk at a slower rate. Read that again. No, you’re not drunk. While doing shots obviously exposes you to more alcohol over a shorter time period, that much alcohol will piss off your stomach lining, making it all defensive, therefore rendering the whole absorbtion process slower. You’re gonna have a higher BAC, but it’s gonna hit you later. That’s why you don’t immediately fall to the ground or get sick after drinking something like two shots of tequila. Liquor is patient. It will wait for the perfect opportunity when you’re talking to that nice lady of questionable morals whom you’ve just met and then unleash its full, vomity vengeance.

Another thing that influences your rate of absorbtion is weight and body fat. Basically the less you weigh, the stronger it will hit you. That’s because you’re gonna have less water in your body for the alcohol to dissolve in, making overall blood alcohol higher than in somebody who weights more. Still, if you’re fat af, you’re still gonna get drunk easier, and maybe even for a loner period of time, since the more fat you’ve got, the less water you’ve got floating around. Also, the alcohol may set up shop in that body fat and release over time making your buzz last longer. Hurray for beer guts! Now, the reason you’ll see a lot of skinny guys holding their liquor pretty well is because their lack of weight might come with a low body fat percentage. Think a killer six pack on somebody that looks like Shaggy from Scooby Doo.

Here’s a few other things that may influence how fast you get drunk:

Not having a penis during that time of the month: you’re gonna get drunk more easily when you’re PMS-ing. Because hormones.

Not having a penis at any time: your livers are weaker. Deal with it.

Being tired: liver’s tired too, so it can’t handle all that processing that needs to be done.

Being stressed: usually somebody who’s stressed out has a lot going on with their body, including a higher heart rate, slower digestive transit, impeded kidney function, and so on. Therefore it might not be completely your fault if  you’re singing “Every rose has its thorn” after a breakup.

 

Effects

Now, booze is what we in the trade would call a sedative-hipnotic. Let me explain: sedative means it relieves anxiety, whereas hypnotic means it puts you to sleep. Now, the way in which it does these things is cool in and of itself, but I fear it’ll need a few more pages of explaining and you just wanna get drunk, so I’ll keep it simple.

 

  1. Relieval of anxiety, euphoria, mania
    • Basically, alcohol tunes things down. Everything. “But, Uggo. After I drink a couple of brewskies I’m the life of the party!” I hear you say. First of all, ew! Don’t say brewsky, frat boy. Secondly, remember when I said that alcohol turns everything down a couple of notches? Yeah, well we all have a couple of screws in our brains that keep us from flying off the handle. Those happen to be right on the surface of your brain, so to speak. Naturally, if alcohol were a screwdriver, those would be the first screws that would get loosened. What happens when you tune down something that tunes you down? It tunes you up. Kinda like how two negatives cancel eachother out.We all have a bit of social anxiety, and alcohol neatly gets rid of it at a moderate BAC. Now it might just happen that you go straight from sober to hammered, incoherent, and slumping against some guy’s shoulder. Please refer to the previous section on how people absorb alcohol differently if that’s your case.For the most of us though, you’re gonna be happier than a *clever metaphor*, with little or no regards to social norms or your own safety.
  2. Sedation
    • If you drink disproportionately to how quickly you eliminate alcohol, your BAC will quickly rise. This means that that screwdriver of ours is gonna start prodding away at other parts of your brain. In no particular order, this is what you will/might get: loss of coherence, loss of balance, loss of fine motor skills, loss of coordination, and loss of ability to not call ex-gf.  There are many ways in which you get alcohol out of your system, from peeing it out (beer’s forte) to sweating it out. That’s why it’s going to be harder for you to get smashed if you’re dancing like an epilepic kid with add everytime the bass drops than, say, moping around your tent for three hours all the while downing glass after glass. Another side-effect is, of course, sleepiness, which brings us to
  3. Hipnosis
    • You’re gonna get sleepy real fast. The extreme version of this is the alcohol-induced coma, where you might develop a nasty habit for throwing up in your own mouth and choking on it (hope you’re not eating) or stop breathing. Not cool, you don’t wanna go there. If you’re feeling sleepy you might wanna slow down.
  4. Nausea
    • The only thing more nauseating than that fake leather jacket is a buttload of booze in a very short time period. Basically your brain has a region which senses if your blood’s become toxic, and decides to reward you for it. Drinking water dilutes the blood, while eating anthing citrus inhibits the reflex altogether. Just ask the bartender to whip you up a nice glass of water and a couple slices of lemon and you’ll be right as rain in abut 15 minutes.
  5. Hunger
    • This is a weird one. Why does that disgusting french-fry stand suddenly look like salvation? That’s a sign that your liver’s having a rough day processing all that booze, and it needs a little pick-me-up. Your brain will make you crave stuff rich in carbohydrates (think anything with starch in it, like pizza) to supply more energy to your underpaid and overworked personal laboratory.
  6. The infamous “whiskey dick”
    • Your willy is a sponge. It fills up with blood and then retains that blood in a mesh of blood vessles in order to maintain an erection. Also, input from your nerves is vital to getting aroused and keeping that state of arousal. A few too many shots of tequila with that 6 whom you’ve mistaken for an 8 (thanks again!) will render your nervous system less capable to control the way blood vessles contract and relax, thus making it harder to get it up and keep it that way. Unless you’ve, like, been on a dry spell for 2 months because you’re in a long-distance relationship and tinder won’t give you matches if your life depended on it. No, that’s not me! I know it’s specific, but what the hell….

I guess that just about covers the basics of how alcohol works and what to expect from our favorite festival lubricant. Sadly, my editor tells me that people won’t read 5 pages of material on their phones, so I guess I’ll have to cut this post short and make the whole alcohol business a two-parter. In part two we’ll be looking into the do’s and don’t’s of binging, how to get your drink on without immediately regurgitating, how to cure a hangover and what to do if somebody next to you overdoses.

Until then, they don’t call me Uggo for no reason. Cheers!