Friday, July 20, 2012

Learn How to Drink
The short answer is, "You drank too much."

The long answer is, "The ethanol in your drinks is converted into aldehydes, carbon dioxide, water and adenosine triphosphate by your liver. The breakdown of ethanol continues. Alcohol dehydrogenase converts it to acetaldehyde, then aldehyde dehydrogenase converts it to acetic acid with a biochemical oxidizing agent nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide."

Whether you like your bad news geeky or simplified, too much of a good thing is still too much. Improper use of beverage alcohol can cause you some symptoms nobody wants: headaches, dizziness, nausea, slurred speech, amnesia, loss of motor coordination, loss of consciousness, loss of pain perception, You can lose your ability to voluntarily respond to external stimuli, your cardiovascular regeneration and you can die.

But drinking is fun, so you better learn how.

The key to your success with alcohol is to learn to enjoy its subtle effects. I am writing this in Wisconsin, and everybody knows the Sconnie reputation for idiotic disregard of the common-sense rules for drinking beverage alcohol. Whether or not you live in the Great State of Wisconsin, drunkenness results from consumption beyond your body's ability to metabolize ethanol.

The ability to metabolize alcohol varies from person to person. There are some generalized guidelines, however. Small people and females get drunk faster than big people, particularly males. Some people are genetically predisposed to handle alcohol better. (If you think this means you, it probably doesn't.) Sick and depressed people get drunk faster, which I suspect has something to do with Darwin, because sick and depressed people have no business drinking in the first place. I am hesitant to include this, so I am sorry to say that it is possible for a person to build up a tolerance for alcohol. It must needs be said, however, that no person can drink so much or so often as to be impervious to its effects.

There are a few things you can do to avoid drunkenness. One, you should dilute the alcohol you drink, preferably with water or a sports drink. A "side sipper" to alternate with whatever you are drinking is a fine idea and a thoughtful gift to oneself. Two, when you pour the alcohol from the glass into your mouth, hold your breath and then exhale through your nose when swallowing. The alcohol vapor lingers atop the liquid surface of the drink, and exhaling it will prevent taking it into your body. Three, swallow immediately. There are medicines with molecules larger than alcohol's that are administered under the tongue, so it can reasonably be assumed that letting alcohol linger in your mouth can increase its rate of absorption. Finally, eat before drinking, eat during drinking and don't go to bed on an empty stomach. The rate of absorption depends on how quickly the stomach empties; the faster your stomach empties, the more quickly alcohol is absorbed. Furthermore, the classical "morning-after foods," which are high in fat can decrease the rate at which the stomach empties. The magic is works like this: high-fat foods make the body release the hormone "enterogastrone" from the duodenum, which inhibits the peristalsis in the stomach, slowing down digestion.

But if it is too late, and your hangover is a fait accompli, your body will need to detoxify itself. I presume you know to drink plenty of fluids before retiring, and there is no shortage of anecdotal advice for speeding recovery. Personally, I believe in sports-recovery drinks like Gatorade, the power of breakfast and a multivitamin, a hot bath and a day spent catnapping on the couch.

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