The Luv Doc: Stick in the Mud

How to be sober and not want to kill yourself

The Luv Doc: Stick in the Mud

Dear Luv Doc,
I am a borderline teetotaler in an office full of alcoholics. How do I deal with work parties without 1) being a stick in the mud, or 2) wanting to kill myself?
Death Watch

I feel ya, DW. I work in an office just like that. In fact, I am one of those alcoholics. I have also, on rare occasions, been on the other side of that equation, so I feel like I won’t completely be talking out of my ass (which, BTW, is sort of an obligatory pastime of alcoholics) when answering your question.

First of all, I know you already know this, but the rest of us booze weasels need to understand it as well: It’s OK not to drink. Yeah, I said it. It is totally OK to not drink any alcohol whatsoever. It is also OK not to smoke crack or drop molly or snort meth or shoot heroin or even worse: drink coffee. Fucking Starbucks junkies and their Starbucks babies ...

Any person who has ever tended bar or driven a cab or worked the Jack in the Box drive-thru at 3am knows how obnoxious and stupid drunk people can be – even (and especially) if they’re having a great time. So, why do drunk people have so much fun doing obviously mundane shit like talking or playing beer pong or having a midnight foot race through a field of fresh cow manure? (OK, that last one might have just been me.)

Well, we certainly don’t want to understate the effect of increased dopamine. Dopamine is some good-ass shit. It’s what your body naturally produces when you’re doing things you enjoy - hanging out with friends, winning the lottery, skydiving, getting a blowie. Another fun chemical bump you get from alcohol is an increase in norepinephrine, which, among other things, lowers inhibition. Combine that lowered inhibition with decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex - the part of the brain responsible for decision-making and rational thought - and you get some pretty entertaining behavior - some of which, fortunately, ends up on YouTube.

So, when interacting with drunks, it’s best to keep things on a primal level. Feel free to open up and express yourself in very simple, emotional terms. Say the thoughts you normally keep inside. Try things that you normally wouldn’t try around sober people, like karaoke or twerking or dry humping hot strangers. Most importantly, don’t overthink. Overthinking leads to self-consciousness and inhibition. Alcohol is about breaking down barriers, not building them up, so throw your hands in the air like you just don’t care, hug everybody and say yes to life. Wear the lampshade and don’t be afraid to show your ass. Any mortifyingly embarrassing moments will become the hilarious anecdotes that will make you the life of the next party.

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Dan Hardick

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