Does alcohol free the tongue to say what’s in the heart or should what we say or do while intoxicated be taken with a pinch of salt?
“Oh God! Kwani jana kuliendaje? You see yourself all over again doing those things you can’t believe you did and saying those things you can’t believe you said. You go through your chat messages and you can’t believe you are the one who typed the texts.
You remember there’s an old adage that says a drunken man’s words are a sober man’s thoughts. But is this true? Should we take people’s drunken behaviour as evidence of their true character?
“We all do things we were not inclined to do when sober. I remember I once proposed to a girl I had only known for two weeks. At the moment, it seemed fun and exciting. But hey, I genuinely did not want to marry that stranger,” says Eric Otieno, a lawyer.
“I like to call everyone when I’m drunk. No one is safe. Ex boyfriends, friends, colleagues, immediate family, my shosh, old bosses, vegetable vendors, my gynaecologist, you name them,” Joan Mwende says, and admits that it doesn’t go well with her the morning after.
“Usually, I say things that my sober self wouldn’t utter; sometimes I say the truth but wouldn’t admit it. But other times, I say what I don’t mean. It all depends with what’s floating on my mind at the time,” she admits.
Another, Michael Maguire, believes that alcohol makes people happy, lightheaded, enthusiastic, sociable and loud. “It is a complicated drug with all sorts of good and bad effects,” he says.
But according to Dr Judy Ochola, being intoxicated just makes you care less. Ochola, a public health specialist in psychology, says that alcohol dulls the brain’s “alarm signal” that warns you when you are making a mistake. These dulled warnings are what lead to the loss of self-control we often regret after one too many.
“Does one mean what they do when drunk? I’ll say yes and no. And I’ll give an example to each. When someone forces a key on his neighbour’s door, they don’t want to break in and steal, it’s their subconscious self-misleading them.
This also applies to the gentleman who proposed to a total stranger. But when you apologise or confess intimate issues to someone, sometimes this is true considering alcohol makes you say or do things you would shy away from when sober,” she says.
However, she warns women not to think too much into a drunk man’s words. At this point, what a drunk man says in a bar stays in a bar, until proven otherwise.
It’s no surprise that alcohol causes people to make bad decisions; many have lived through a blackout to tell their own tales. Unfortunately, most of those bad decisions include saying something you probably shouldn’t have said because your brain just couldn’t keep up with your wild mouth.
Drinking makes people to have reduced inhibitions. People put their guards down and have no worries. Fewer inhibitions means saying how we really feel as opposed to the tight-lipped mouths we hold all day for fear of rejection or a blown cover.
“Yes, there are exceptions when drunken words are actually sober thoughts. When sober, you’ll probably keep it to yourself because you’re just trying to be nice,” Jane Nyambura, a sociologist says.
She continues, “This is because alcohol is liquid confidence. So you are persuaded to say things when drunk, but that doesn’t mean it’ll make a difference in any sober relationship. Confidence doesn’t mean the truth. Alcohol changes how our brain functions, and since our brain is who we are, alcohol does not let out our true unchanged selves. It just changes who we are.”
According to Nyambura, the vicious cycle of alcohol is the idea that we drink to forget, yet only think about it more once intoxicated. Alcohol may allow a person to express a long-held grievance or sorrow that is real and runs deep and sore and badly needs to be spoken about.
“People drink to have a good time or to forget the bad ones. Either way, you’re never going to keep in those feelings that you think you’ve buried deep in your unconscious. Because no matter how strong or “over it” you think you are, alcohol will make sure to remind you that you most certainly are not,” she concludes.