Looking after ourselves and our friends should be our top priority on a night out, but not many people recognise the dangers of ‘sleeping it off’. Here Georgia writes about her own experiences.
My relationship with alcohol
When I turned 18, I was out in Leeds nearly every weekend, and nearly every weekend was the same story. I have come to realise that I hate the feeling of being drunk, particularly because I like to feel in control of my body and when I am not it makes me super anxious. So, whenever I could feel myself heading into the ‘blackout drunk’ stage I would take myself home to my safe, warm, and cosy bed, yet it wasn’t as safe as it seemed.
Throughout the past few years, I have thrown up in my sleep countless times, with no memory of it occurring. Although I knew the dangers of this and was fully aware that I could choke in my sleep and potentially die, there were so many times when I had gone to sleep feeling somewhat fine, so I could not understand why it was happening so frequently.
Binge drinking and alcohol overdose
Despite the frequent occurrence of what I now understand was alcohol overdose, I continued to drink excessive amounts in a short space of time. It’s also cost me a small fortune having to constantly replace duvets, bedding, pillows etc.
Before I share with you what I know now and how you can prevent this from happening, I want to highlight my most worrying experience of alcohol overdose which was during a girl’s holiday in Zante. As you’re probably aware, these kinds of holidays are centred around excessive drinking, and drinking to ‘get drunk’.
One night we paid for a 3-hour unlimited bar, and of course I wanted to get my monies worth. After the 3 hours were up we went to the next club and I knew I was on the verge of blacking out, so it was time for me to go to bed and ‘sleep it off’. My friend kindly walked me back to the hotel and the next thing I remember was waking up very confused and seeing sick on the floor.
Pretty much every time this has happened I have still been drunk when I’ve woke up, so I’ve somehow managed to find light in the situation and laugh it off. I guess it’s one of those things where if you don’t laugh you’ll cry.
Anyway, after having a conversation with one of my friends (who usually stayed out until the early hours) she told me she came back to the hotel not long after me, and for some reason got a taxi home (it was only a 15-minute walk). This friend was also staying in a different room to me and for some reason she didn’t have her room key, she had my second one.
She said she could hear me choking from outside the room, and when she opened the door she saw me laid on my back, foaming at the mouth and choking on my sick. Luckily, she was there to turn me onto my side, so I could throw up all the pasta I had eaten a few hours before, and considering the strange coincidences, I’m lucky to be alive to tell the tale.
You’d think this would’ve stopped me from binge drinking again, but it didn’t. Since then, I have unknowingly thrown up in my sleep multiple times, but after gaining an interest in reading books on alcohol and experiencing life in lockdown without these kinds of nights out, I’ve become more aware of the causes and effects of alcohol overdose, and I’ve realised how good life is to feel ‘fresh’ every day. I will never allow myself to get into those states again.
Even after you’ve finished drinking your last drink, your alcohol levels continue to rise. There have clearly been many times when I’ve gone home feeling relatively stable, yet unaware that my alcohol levels are rising, causing me to ‘blackout’ in my sleep. Alcohol also hinders the signals in your brain that trigger your gag reflexes, and this can be fatal for obvious reasons.
If you know you have a ‘low tolerance’ to alcohol, then make it known to the people you’re drinking with.
Your age, gender, weight, height, medication, and food intake are just a few of the factors that impact your tolerance levels. So, as a 5 ft 1 women weighing just over 100 pounds, my tolerance to alcohol is understandably going to be much lower than your average persons, and this is something I would encourage you to consider when trying to ‘keep up’ with your peers.
How to keep you and your friends safe
- A few drinks can easily turn into something messy, so if know you have a low tolerance, let the people you’re drinking with know.
- Share the above information with friends and family, so they can make more responsible choices.
- Do NOT pressure others to drink a heavy amount of alcohol in a short space of time, and definitely don’t bow to the pressure.
- If you’re with someone who is highly intoxicated, stay with them and try to keep them sitting up straight and awake.
- If someone you’re with has passed out, lie them on their side in the recovery position and place a pillow behind them to prevent them from rolling onto their back, and of course seek professional medical help.
I’ve always felt that people would perceive me as ‘boring’ if I didn’t drink. If you want to wake up in the morning with no regrets that doesn’t make you boring, just sensible, and more people need to realise this.
Even though alcohol is a poisonous drug, people advise us to get to know our limits, but we all have different tolerances to alcohol and our ‘limit’ is dependent on so many factors, making it difficult to do so. So, try not to bow down to the pressure of having to keep up with everyone else and instead keep it steady.
Reducing your alcohol consumption is an effective form of self-care, it improves everything from our finances to our physical and mental health.
Whilst waking up to find yourself in a pool of your own sick is most definitely the least glamorous part of a night out, it could also be the most dangerous.
Be aware of the risks, take it steady, live in the moment, make memories, and look after yourself and others.