PIECING IT ALL TOGETHER

26 Sep

We fumble our words and we stumble our bodies, we dance in a trance but struggle to interpret the cutting of other people’s shapes and we spend the next day hanging out with Mr and Mrs hung-over, who are very unforgiving, eventually re-calling all the idiotic acts we performed the previous night. So the question is…. Why do we do it in the first place??

Don’t us humans learn from our mistakes?? How did we get to be the most successful species (dubious) if we don’t learn from our mistakes? What attracts us to alcohol?

In a study done by Claude and Roberts called Alcohol Myopia: Its Prized and Dangerous Effects they put the reasons why we are attracted to alcohol quite poetically: “intoxication can make us frightenly aggressive, yet more altruistic, it can relieve stressful anxiety and tension, yet increase anxiety and tension, it can inflate our egos, yet lead to ‘crying-in-ones beer’ depression”. They name alcohol as a two headed beast both capable of giving us a desired outcome, but also taking us away from the desired outcome down a path of negative effects. (Claude & Roberts 1990)

They say one of the main reasons it is hard to evaluate how alcohol will affect one person is because it depends on how that said person is feeling on that day and what setting the alcohol is being consumed in (Claude & Roberts 1990).

Insert my scenario, where the setting is at a house party, and the drinker is surrounded by good friends and a positive environment. This type of setting is conducive to a positive feeling drinker. One that doesn’t get violent, feel anxious or left to cry in their beer alone, but rather turns into Chuck Norris when their friend jumps into the pool, one that dances, however obscenely, the one that has a smile on his/her face till the very wee hours of the morning.

Interview in action!

Unfortunately not every scene is like this, and so the other head of this beast ‘alcohol’ has the potential to show face and write the story that we are all so familiar with. The violence, the stupid decisions, the fights and all that crap.

So, have fun with your friends as you drink. If you feel a bit Debbie Downer maybe just stick to the cordial, because it seems from all the research I have done (Claude & Roberts 1990, Glindemann et al 1990, Houben & Wiers 2007, Hull & Young 1983, Kiene et al. 2009, Lynne et al. 1995 & Steele & Critchlow 1985) alcohol plays on your weaknesses as much as it can play on your strengths. From all the negativity out there surrounding alcohol, let’s not add to it, and instead use this drug in a responsible manner if possible and wrestle with our friends, dance like a fool, jump into the pool and maybe at the end of the night, have a little drool, but in a FUN, FRIENDLY way. As all those alcohol commercials say under their breath at the end of the commercial ENJOY RESPONISBLY!

 

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Say good-morning to Mr and Mrs Hungover

20 Sep

R.E.M.O.R.S.E

Those dry Martinis did the work for me:

Last night at twelve I felt immense,

Today I fee like thirty cents.

My eyes are blurred, my coppers hot,

I’ll try to eat, but I cannot.

It is no time for mirth and laughter,

The cold, grey dawn of the morning after.

George Ade, The Sultan of Sulu, 1903.


You haven’t slept long enough but you can’t lay there in this sweat filled agony any longer. You must get up and beeline for the tap to re-hydrate fast and then fresh air to gather your thoughts.

Your brain has returned, however it is arguing with your body in a bad way. Why oh why did you have that many drinks last night. Why does it feel like you were squeezing your head in a vice all night? It was only liquid you were drinking wasn’t it? Not cement!

Bottle of trouble


Well it may have been just liquid but depending on your weapon of choice you may be experiencing a worse hangover than your neighbour. Research has shown drinks that contain congeners (bi-product of alcohol preparation), like tequila, wine and whisky will hit you in the face harder the next morning than say vodka, gin and rum that do not have these congeners. (Goldberg & Damrau 1971, Pawan 1973 & Wiese et al. 2000)

So when that person comes around yelling “Tequila Time!!! No excuses”. Just say “listen I would love to but I’m allergic to the congeners in the tequila”. Drunk and confused Tommy Tequila will move on to the next victim.

But what does this word hangover really mean? The fancy name for hangover is veisalgia. The first part veis, coming from the Norwegian word kveis, which means the “uneasiness that follows debauchery” and the second part algia which in Greek translates to “pain”.

So basically the pain of debauchery is our hangover. With symptoms like nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headache, dry throat and more often than not a feeling of confusion, I would say the word veisalgia is an apt title.

Just another insightful interview with a hungover man!

 

But why do we feel all these terrible things from a few too many drinks? Research done by Weise et al (2000) in a study called The Alcohol Hangover, notes that alcohol much like a virus disrupts our cytokine pathways. Cytokines are the good guys in our body that come from the nervous system and the immune system, defending against the bad guys that are punching at your insides. So when we hit the bottle, the alcohol stuffs up the pathways that send these cytokine around our body. Therefore we lack the Bruce Willis’s and the Van Damme’s travelling through our body and we wake up feeling like absolute crap

As heavy as we feel during a hangover, we seem to take the consequences of one rather lightly. However the common hangover has a bigger detrimental effect than the common cold in the work place.

In Britain, where there is a pub on every corner, it costs the nation close to 3.3 billion pounds per year due to hung-over fools (Verster et al. 2003) who are either not present at work, crying/vomiting in the bathroom, or dreaming about an egg and bacon roll rather than doing any work.

But us Aussies can’t laugh too hard, although our hangover bill is around 3.8 million dollars per year (Verser et al 2003 & Weiss et all 2000), about 600 million dollars under the Brits (3.3pounds = 4.4 Aus. dollars), we are 1/3of the population of Britain, which means the likelihood of drinking within a population is much higher in Australia. Dare I say, maybe WE should lay off the tinnies.

Is there a way to combat this evil hangover, to send it far away?!

Yes!!! Enter BANANA MAN. Some may remember a cartoon called BANANA MAN!!

For those of you who don’t I have supplied a high definition, surround sound clip for your pleasure.

A study done by Wiese et al (2000), that consisted of getting people drunk and finding out the best way to stop them feeling like crap, found that prophylactic vitamin B6 reduced the amount of hangover symptoms by 50%. So you may still have a dry throat but no headache!!! Hoorah!

And where do we get this wonderful vitamin……..BANANAS!!

Yes bananas are rich in B6 and they are a tasty delicious snack. So to fight that hangover remember buy bananas, not only are you doing yourself a favour, you’re doing our Australian farmers a favour by purchasing their bananas and the country’s economy is boosted not only from you buying home grown goods, but also the fact these bananas will render you only mildly ineffective in the workplace the next day compared to the high levels of uselessness that you would be achieving if you were banana-less!.

Say Goodnight To Drinking……………

14 Sep

This is the part of the night where we all wish we had the ability to teleport or at least have the ability to teleport prime possum to your immediate location so he could lift you up and carry you off to the land of nod.

Well, this plain and simply is not going to happen……so let’s set the scene!

Suddenly it is the early a.m’s of a new day. You are not sure where the last few hours went, but as they say time flies when you are having fun.

But now you are not having so much fun. That girl that you were dancing with has gone home or decided that dancing with someone who recently walked into a table or spilt his drink over someone or vomited discretely (not so) into a bush is not so compelling. Your friends have either said goodnight, left the party, or are as equally unappealing as yourself and all you want to do is be curled up in bed, warm and comfortable (insert teleport device/prime possum here).

Why did you keep on drinking you ask yourself, why didn’t you just stop at a few. But most importantly, why isn’t your body cooperating with your brain anymore. It felt fine after a few drinks, but now that many have been shared………….. WHERE IS MY MIND (Pixies reference).

You feel like a new borne calf learning to walk for the first time. But funnily enough, even though you may be walking into objects that can be seen from 14k.m’s away, having two conversations-one with yourself and the other with someone who has no idea or interest as to what you are saying, last one left cutting shapes on the dance-floor and basically the “who brought that guy” guy, you care little about how people are looking at or judging you.

The reason for this is simply and purely because YOU DON’T GIVE A SHIT. It is commonly known that alcohol is an inhibitor. A study done by Young and Hull called Self-Consciousness, Self-Esteem, and Success-Failure of Alcohol Consumption in Male Social Drinkers, detailed how alcohol interferes with the self-aware state, inhibiting our higher cognitive processes which give us relevant information we need and keep us behaving in a coordinated, respectable manner.

So without these higher cognitive processes we become a kook (uncoordinated) and we stop worrying about being a kook, therefore we continue to be one. We no longer have a concept of negative evaluation of ourselves.

Not only does alcohol inhibit our “care” factor it also inhibits our ability not to help? WHAT?!?!

Yes, a brilliant study done by Steele & Critchlow called Alcohol and Social Behaviour II: the Helpful Drunkard, explains that because alcohol is an inhibitor it inhibits our ability to see the negative side of helping. So, say for instance someone has fallen into the pool (in the middle of winter in Greenland?!) and can’t breathe, the guy that was previously walking into things and having a solo two-way conversation suddenly turns into a super hero and is the first into the pool to get that person out. He/she does not absorb the negative of how cold it will be to jump into that pool and how dangerous it may be for themselves.

Their fellow man is in trouble and they’ll be dammed if they get hurt on their watch.

Steele &  Critchlow found the following equation: higher intoxication + higher need for help = a more helpful drunkard.

Although there are of course negative reasons to being the next Chuck Norris, it is nice to know that not all people that drink alcohol are going to go start fights, knock off letterboxes or do a runner from the taxi. Some of us just want to jump into that pool and get our friend out.

Take it away Bill!

Every day we’re shuffling shuffling

11 Sep

That was my lame attempt at introducing a hit of pop culture whilst drawing a faint connection with what this post is actually about.

So once again let us set the scene!

You find yourself after a few drinks moving, almost involuntarily to the beat of the music.

Your arms and legs are flailing about rapidly, trying desperately to keep up to the rhythm of the beat. You think you’re doing a pretty good job of looking co-ordinated, keeping your dance moves versatile (mixing up the order of the three moves you realistically have, sometimes combining two to create a hybrid move. For example combining “throwing the dice’ and the ‘forward pelvic thrust’ to create the “dicey thrust”) and managing to drink your drink all at the same time.

Then out of nowhere you begin to move magnetically to a girl who is dancing on the other side of the dance-floor. What is it that is attracting you to that girl? You have seen her before during the night and didn’t think twice (although you may have glanced twice), but now with the music pumping and her swaying hips there is a drum that begins to beat inside of you.

Symptoms would suggest………YOU GOT THE MUSIC IN YOU!

A popular lyric in a popular song by the New Radicals, a one hit wonder, for those of you who haven’t heard of these guys but could sing the song in your sleep.

But not only was this a popular lyric but also a factual statement according to a man called Blacking, who did a study way back in the day called How Musical is Man? Music is a source of communication that moves the body in an expression that translates to how that person is feeling (Blacking 1976 & Trevarthen & Malloch 2000)

Therefore we apparently all have the ability to shake our tail-feather!

The purpose of music says Trevarthen and Malloch is to enhance the quality of the individual experience and human relationships, which sounds like a mighty good reason to play music at a party where you want the individual to have a good time but also the relationships within that party to be of a positive, happy-go-lucky vibe.

And here we have another insightful interview by myself with a willing party-goer

When it comes to dancing with a girl or boy, whatever your fancy, study has shown that we have in fact begun communicating with this person long before we show them our two-step (Siegman & Felstein 1979, 1987 & Trevarthen & Malloch 2000). Trevarthern & Malloch have a lovely term for it, they call it “Communicative Musicality”, meaning we react to each other’s movements almost subconsciously reflecting their movements and motives.

However when we have had a few drinks we might misinterpret the other’s motives and movements, i.e. the swaying hips are not enticing you to come closer they are actually pointing at the direction you should be walking.

So when you feel that drum beating inside of you and your jerking dance moves start to respond to someone else’s dancing remember to ask yourself is he/she communicating with me in a magical, musical way or trying to connect musically with the person behind me and you just happen to be in the way.

Either way nothing will stop you dancing because…..  YOU GOT THE MUSIC IN YOU!!

Here is some lovely dancing by a man who clearly has the music in him!!

Drinks are flowing, lack of inhibition is growing

7 Sep

The sun is setting, you have shared a few drinks with your friends, and you start to notice yourself speaking a lot more and a lot louder than you usually do. You have a sudden urge to go to the toilet but at the same time you went only 10 minutes ago.

Two of your friends have decided it’s a great idea to wrestle in the grass, and even though you have one of your favourite most expensive shirts on, you can’t help but want to join.

You feel quite happy with yourself and speak with more certainty and confidence than you usually do.

All these indicators indicate that those few drinks you have consumed are starting to take effect on your body but more so your mind.

Research has shown that if you are in a positive frame of mind and your self-esteem is that of Mr T. the experience of having a few drinks with your friends will more likely than not be a positive one.

A study done by Lynne and colleagues identified two hidden motives underlying our behaviour when we drink.

The first one is called Behavioural Inhibition System (BIS), which basically means it controls our negative emotions so that we don’t start crying when a girl tells us to take that idiotic dancing to the other side of the room.

The second one is called Behavioural Activation System (BAS) that controls our positive emotions, not just happiness but also the determinedness of achieving our goals, whatever they may be.

So we have a balance between these two which keeps us both merry and moody. But, there are some people who might have too much of one of these systems. For example; if a person has too much BAS he/she has too much of a good thing, which is bad. Confused? Good! You might identify these people as the ones attempting to do a backflip off the roof into the pool………………………in the middle of Winter.

A study done by Glindemann and colleagues called the Self-Esteem and Alcohol Consumption: A Study of College Drinking Behaviour in a Naturalistic Setting, found that people with a low self-esteem actually had higher blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) levels than those that had a high or higher than low self-esteem. This related to another study done by Capraro, who found men who were drinking just to be part of the team (GO TEAM!!), ended up standing out as an individual because their alcohol consumption was too high and they lost control of their body and emotions.

Therefore the motto of the story is, if you are feeling down, listen to Tina Turner ‘Simply the Best”, before the party, sing it loud, sing it proud and if you don’t feel like drinking alcohol then don’t. If your friends don’t understand or make fun of you then HOT TIP! They’re not your friends and its best you don’t waste any more time with those losers.

If you are enjoying your drinks and feeling positive, enjoy this, wrestle in the grass if you must, but under no circumstances must you climb the roof and attempt a backflip into the pool. No one will think you are cool and you will not pick up any babes with this manoeuvre.

Example:

Here are some oh so professional interviews with my friends after they had consumed a few drinks at  a house party. Without expecting it the responses from each person were quite different to each other.

So please feel free to listen!

The Science of Party Party

5 Sep

Hello Hello there people. I am that Science Hombre, and I am going to explore the science behind a night out. Whether successfully or not is another question.

The following questions and general curiosities are what I hope to explore in the SCIENCE OF PARTY PARTY blog:

-There are certain things that we say and or do after we have  a few drinks, and we wonder the following day why we actually did those certain things.

-What initally attracts us to somoene on the dance floor and why are we now suddenly tearing up the dance floor when earlier on we had not the courage nor the inclination to dance.

-How do we know when enough is enough? Our body and mind are no longer on speaking terms and communication between the two has completely broken down.

-THE MORNING AFTER!  Our mind and body are back together, but they are fighting and ripping into each other, leaving you feeling tender and bruised. Although you know you cannot physically stomach any food you still crave an egg and bacon roll with extra grease, but above all you would sacrafice your own car for a bottle of water.

To answer these questions and curiosities I plan on researching scientific papers, to make the blog vaguely professional, but also more importantly I plan on talking to the people that are experiencing the experience of alcohol.

There will be interviews with real life people who are under the influence of alcohol, pictures and clips to give depth to the written word, so please stay tuned, stay interested and let us explore together what is happening to our brain and body when we PARTYPARTY!