For some people, opening a bottle of wine or ordering their favourite cocktail is a way to feel good and relax. However, for others, it can make them anxious, angry and even prone to feeling emotional. The truth is, alcohol can affect people in a variety of ways. This is because as you consume alcohol you’re introducing a substance that can result in different emotional and psychological responses into your body. Ultimately, this can manifest differently depending on a few different factors. But in this article we explore the question, ‘why do I cry when drunk?’.
Why Do I Cry When Drunk?
Alcohol is classed as a central nervous system depressant which means that when an individual consumes alcohol, the substance begins to slow down the brain activity. It alters the brain’s neurotransmitters, which are chemicals in the brain that relay messages all over the body. This is why some people find their speech, movement and response time to events and feelings can be significantly slower after drinking alcohol.
In addition to this, alcohol also impacts the part of the brain that is responsible for rational thinking. This is called the prefrontal cortex, and is also where most of our decisions are made. Hence, why some people become more reckless than others after having a drink of alcohol. What’s more, emotions which are usually kept in check can be brought to the surface more easily when this part of the brain is impacted.
As a depressant, alcohol can also amplify any emotions we are feeling. For example, if someone is already feeling sad or angry, they might find that after drinking alcohol, they feel even sadder or angrier. On a biological level, alcohol also impacts the body’s natural serotonin and endorphin levels, which are known as the body’s feel-good chemicals and are essential for regulating our overall mood. When anything impacts these chemicals, including alcohol, mood swings can appear as can tears.
The Other Emotional Effects of Alcohol
It’s not just tears and sadness that can be brought on by alcohol. As mentioned, substances can have a varying effect on individuals. This can include:
- Happiness and euphoria: When someone consumes alcohol, the body may naturally increase its dopamine levels which means the brain then associates drinking with pleasure and reward which is why some people feel happy after a drink.
- Anger and aggression: The prefrontal cortex, which we know controls rational thinking and decision making, is affected by alcohol, and because of this some people find that they become more aggressive when drunk. This is because reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex is responsible for aggressive behaviour.
- Depression and anxiety: Large amounts of alcohol, and alcohol abuse over time, can affect the body’s natural ability to release serotonin which is essential for good mood. This means that alcohol use can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, hopelessness and extreme sadness in some individuals, again leading to crying when drunk.
As well as the above emotional effects, large amounts of alcohol can also play havoc with the brain’s ability to remember things and also form new memories. This is what’s called a memory blackout or an alcohol blackout, and is the reason why some people become more forgetful once they have drunk alcohol and also why some people wake up the next day and don’t remember much after a period of alcohol use.
How To Manage Alcohol and Emotions
If you do consume alcohol responsibly but find yourself getting emotional, it can be a challenge. However, there are a few best practice tips for managing emotions when drinking alcohol. Remember, if you are concerned about your drinking habits or someone you care about, it’s important to seek the support and help of a professional before the concern becomes a bigger problem.
Here are some practical tips for managing emotions while drinking alcohol:
- Know your limits: Even if you don’t find yourself getting emotional after drinking alcohol, it’s important to know your limits to prevent any immediate and long-term health concerns. With this in mind, keep track of how many drinks you have had and be sure to pace yourself so that you know you can handle what you are drinking.
- Stay hydrated: Water not only prevents dehydration, headaches and sickness when drinking alcohol but it also helps to dilute the amount of alcohol in your system. This means the effects of alcohol can be lessened which could mean that you’re better able to stay on top of your emotions.
- Eat a healthy meal: Just like water, eating food before, during and after drinking alcohol can help to reduce its effects including the emotional effect it might have on you. This is because food helps to slow the absorption of alcohol in your body so be sure to enjoy a healthy and nutritious meal before any alcohol consumption.
- Stay aware: If you know that after a certain number of drinks you’re likely to get emotional, or that drinking a certain type of drink makes you behave in a certain way, it’s best to steer clear of those situations. What’s more, if you know you’re feeling down, it’s probably best to have an alcohol-free day. And, if you are drinking alcohol and you feel yourself slipping into sad emotions, talk to someone and consider removing yourself from the situation.
- Choose your setting: One of the best ways you can keep your emotions in check is to ensure that you’re feeling safe and comfortable which is why the right setting for an alcoholic drink is so important. Surround yourself with people you know and trust, and you’ll likely feel better overall. Plus, if you do start to feel emotional, you know that there’s someone close by to help.
As well as the above tips regarding managing emotions after alcohol, it’s also important to avoid mixing alcohol with other drugs including over-the-counter painkillers and prescription medication. This is because several drugs are known to increase the emotional effects of alcohol, which can not only make you more tearful after drinking but it could be dangerous too.
Find Support Today
Emotional effects of alcohol can vary, which is why it’s important to be aware of your own emotional and physical reactions so that you can enjoy a drink responsibly. If you do find that alcohol is affecting your mood, or you think you are struggling with an alcohol addiction, it’s important to seek help.
At Rehab Clinics Group, that’s where we come in – offering a wide range of support and addiction treatment options for individuals and families struggling with alcohol dependence. Our team is here to help, whatever stage of your journey you’re at, and we have everything you need to navigate the complex path of addiction while finding a path towards recovery. Find one of our drug and alcohol centres near you.