“Ugh, I am never drinking again.” I say as I touch my fingers to my throbbing temples. “It’s just not worth it.”
I must’ve said those words a hundred times over in my drinking career. The guilt, shame, and/or physical discomfort would keep me away from booze for a couple of days, but inevitably, I’d be back at it again the next weekend. Eventually, my drinking landed me in rehab and then in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, but that’s a different story for a different day.
That feeling I had, I learned later, is known as drinker’s remorse, and it’s pretty common amongst binge drinkers. Binge drinking is defined as having 4 or more drinks in one sitting for women, or 5 or more for men. Drinker’s remorse comes from the either regretting what you did while you we’re wasted, or regretting you drank enough to give you a wicked hangover.
My worst feelings of drinker’s remorse would come when I either remembered something awful I had done while drinking or someone else reminded me of something awful I had done. I’d wake up and think, “Oh shit! What did I do last night?” while frantically trying to piece together the events of the night before. Other times, I’d wake up and be peacefully unaware that anything was amiss, because I had “blacked out” while drinking. That is, until a friend would call to remind me, and the awful memories would come flooding back. Or until the random guy I had gone home with would turn over in bed and make me aware of his presence. Or I would look at my phone and see who I called or texted while I was wasted.
I hated that feeling of drinker’s remorse. I felt like my heart had dropped into my stomach. My brain would frantically race through thoughts like:
“How bad was I?”
“Did everyone see?”
“Can I sneak this guy out of my apartment before my roommates wake up?”
“Do I still have friends?”
“Do I still have a job?”
The main difference between me and my non-alcoholic friends is that they would have one or two of these mornings of drinker’s remorse, and then they would learn their lesson. They wouldn’t drink that way again. I never learned my lesson. No matter how many times I woke up with drinker’s remorse, no matter how many times I would promise that I would cut down or quit drinking all together, I would be back in the same place a couple of weeks later.
In my experience, drinker’s remorse can be cured in one of three ways:
1. Exercise (In fact, people who exercise regularly get drinker’s remorse less frequently)
2. More liquor (Not always the best choice, but that didn’t stop me!)
3. Resolving the issue you regret (This can’t always be done, but if you can apologize or make up for something you regret, this is the best cure for drinker’s remorse.)