So to begin, let’s set it straight that this post is NOT about drinking in moderation (1-2 drinks). I think most people would agree that moderate drinking is probably the best way to be as a well-adjusted member of society.

This post is NOT about drinking in moderation.

Instead, it’d be more interesting to explore and contrast the extremes of excessive drinking (6-20 drinks) with total sobriety (0 drinks).

A lot of ex-heavy drinkers will zealously tell you that total sobriety is 100% better than excessive drinking in every way possible (I’ve personally found that the internet is full of one-sided polarized opinions like this). I can understand why ex-heavy drinkers feel this way; however, in my opinion, nothing in life is that simple. You need to look at both sides fairly.

So, here is a raw, pragmatic, unbiased comparison of Excessive Sobriety Versus Excessive Drinking, competing in 6 different categories (Physical Health, Mental Health, Productivity in Life, Creativity & Open-Mindedness, Socializing and Dating):

Excessive Sobriety Versus Excessive Drinking.

Round 1: Physical Health

Points for Excessive Sobriety

Let’s start with the most obvious and probably the most important. If you are a heavy drinker then there’s a pretty good chance that you will die much younger than a person with a completely sober lifestyle, maybe even by a decade or more.

Besides the direct harmful effects that alcohol has on your organs (liver, kidneys, heart, stomach, pancreas and brain to name a few), alcohol often surrounds violent crime and car accidents. Also, I have met very few heavy drinkers who were not also smokers.

Lookin’ a bit unwell there mate.

Furthermore, I don’t know about you, but I find going to the gym (or almost any form of even moderately-strenuous exercise) with a hangover impossibly unbearable. Another factor to consider is when someone is massively drunk or hungover, the body isn’t really interested in that healthy green salad; your brain and stomach will just be telling you to go for that greasy cheeseburger or pizza.

Being completely sober, on the other hand, can give you the energy, motivation and free time to hit the gym, exercise and eat healthily. Obviously, you’ll be avoiding the direct damage that alcohol does to your organs as well.

Most people’s bodies just automatically stay healthy naturally; if you’re completely sober, you’ll be able to feel physically healthy and strong most days. Sometimes, chronic excessive drinkers forget what that actually even feels like.

You don’t have to be such a floaty d*ckhead about it like this dude, but it truly does feel really good to be healthy and strong.

Points for Excessive Drinking

The only potential negative point for excessive sobriety here is if you become a shut-in who just sits on the sofa and watches TV or plays games all day. If that’s the case, then going out and drinking excessively would almost be healthier. Inactivity is another big killer that is often underestimated.

Excessive drinking could potentially cause someone to get out of the house and be more active while walking around bars, socializing, playing pool and dancing.

If excessive drinking causes you to be active in bars by playing pool, dancing or walking around, then that’s at least a bit of exercise.

The Verdict:

When it comes to physical health, it seems to be an easy win for excessive sobriety, as long as you don’t become an extremely inactive sober person.

Landslide victory for Excessive Sobriety.

Round 2: Mental Health

Points for Excessive Drinking

Alcohol (ethanol) by nature affects various different neurotransmitters in your brain, which is where the feelings of relaxation, contentment, sociability, mild euphoria and reduction of inhibitions come from. Also, there’s that intangible, elusive feeling a few drinks in where everything just seems right in the world; like you’re exactly in the perfect place and at one with the flow of the universe. That’s all caused by alcohol increasing “happy/chillneurotransmitters and inhibiting “stress/anxietyneurotransmitters.

All human beings just want to feel good; can you really blame them for that?

For the most part, alcohol initially creates positive feelings that can allow you to de-stress your mind and relax, as well as pave the way for enjoyable social interactions.

Even when quite drunk, as long as a person doesn’t get sick or start acting angry or sad, then they’ll often have amusing, interesting and entertaining experiences.

If you are stressed, sad or upset about something, then alcohol often really can buy you a few hours (or a few days) where you’ll actually not even be too bothered about your troubles. Alcohol can help numb the pain of memories, like adding little foam pads onto the edges of the throwing stars bouncing around your brain. Or, alcohol can help you just straight-up forget what was bothering you, as long as you also have music and people around to distract you.

Drinking alcohol can be like methodically erasing Malware from your brain… until it returns stronger than ever tomorrow.

But unfortunately, whoever designed the universe had a twisted sense of humor and decided to make it so that most things that feel good are actually bad for you.

Points for Excessive Sobriety

Well, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, so when alcohol modifies your neurotransmitters, then your neurotransmitters are going to swing back in the opposite direction eventually. The “happy/chill” neurotransmitters that alcohol flooded you with last night are now depleted this morning. Likewise, the “stress/anxiety” neurotransmitters that alcohol restricted last night are now running rampant in the brain. Basically, the brain is chemically imbalanced, in a bad way.

What this means is that you will feel the exact opposite of relaxation, contentment, sociability, mild euphoria and reduction of inhibitions when the effects of alcohol start to wear off after a heavy night. That often translates to anxiety (The Fear), melancholy, social awkwardness and just generally being scatterbrained.

The Fear is a relentless, unforgiving b*tch.

Furthermore, as your brain gradually compensates over time to constant alcohol exposure, your baseline “sober” state will semi-permanently become what was previously your hangover state and you’ll need to drink alcohol to stop feeling anxious and irritable; you’ll need it just to feel normal. This is called tolerance and withdrawal. Eventually, it’ll get to a point where you can’t outrun the hangover / The Fear / the chemical imbalance any longer.

Excessive sobriety means your brain will never get to experience the boost of good feelings that alcohol provides, but you’ll also never experience the bad. Your brain chemistry will remain balanced and stable (flat) every day. Less interesting, but psychologically safer.

The Verdict:

This one is not as straightforward.

Basically, you need to assess yourself and weigh out the benefits to the drawbacks; see if it’s worth it. Are you able to accept and deal with the chemical imbalance and mental discomfort that comes after a day or two of excessive drinking? Are you able to face the psychological consequences head-on and won’t need to run away (continue drinking) from the painful thoughts and feelings?

See, I used to think like that, but that’s just guna be a f*ckin’ mess that you’re going to have to deal with eventually. The longer you let it roll, the bigger the massive snowball of psychological pain will become.

I would definitely argue against more than 1 or 2 days of excessive drinking in a row, as eventually, the chemical imbalance is going to overshadow all of the positive effects that alcohol would have had on your mind; you’re just wasting money and health for nothing at this point. It would be wise to make sure your brain chemistry has rebalanced out again before getting on another heavy sesh.

So, is it worth the trade? Sometimes it is worth it to drink excessively, just make sure that you are fully prepared to accept and overcome what you’ll inevitably be facing once you wake up.

If you currently have problems going on in your life, then maybe you should wait until your problems are sorted and you are better able to accept and cope with the chemical imbalance that accompanies excessive drinking.

Slight victory for Excessive Drinking, as long as you have enough self-awareness and self-control to prevent yourself from becoming too chemically imbalanced or dependant.

Round 3: Productivity in Life

Points for Excessive Sobriety

Unless you work in the entertainment or service industry (or maybe you’re a writer), then having a lifestyle where you regularly drink excessively is probably going to hurt your career.

Jeeezus bruv, how much are you guna get accomplished today?

I think almost every human being in the world is probably less efficient at completing tasks when hungover. If just getting yourself recovered to the point where you don’t feel like you’re dying seems like such a difficult mission, then how are you going to accomplish work responsibilities that day? Personally, I’m probably more productive after a 2-hour sober sleep (with a coffee) than I am after a 10-hour wasted “sleep”.

Also, to me, walking outside the door with a hangover and being greeted by tropical sunlight plus 1 million horns and motorbikes is usually enough of a deterrent against running any sort of errands until my senses are more ready to deal with that level of stimulation.

Probably best to avoid driving with a massive hangover too.

Points for Excessive Drinking

People who are completely sober all day every day may live out years or decades with just a few minor speedbumps here and there. They may not be entirely happy with the circumstances of their lives, but things are good enough.

Excessive drinking, on the other hand, can cause you to radically and abruptly transform your life, or utterly demolish it.

Why can that be a good thing? Because maybe there’s a reason why you subconsciously felt the need to raze or upheave your life. Maybe, you knew that you wouldn’t have been happy if a decade or two from now you were still living the same life. Sometimes destroying something is the only possible way to create something new. Sometimes you just gotta Noah’s Ark that sh*t in a torrential downpour of alcohol.

Although it’s for the long-term benefit, to deal with the trepidation and short-term pain of pulling out an infected tooth you may need a shot of whiskey or two. Similarly, suddenly and mercilessly revolutionizing your life may require some liquid courage/inspiration. You need to gain some I-don’t-give-a-f*ck-ness in order to be able to drastically uproot yourself from everything you’ve grown embedded in over the years; only then will you have the proper state of mind to quit that job, break up with that person, move to that city (or country) or whatever else you need to do to get on a path to leading the type of life that you’ve always wanted to lead.

It’s definitely not easy at first, but we usually regret the things we didn’t do in life more than the things we did do.

Verdict:

In most careers in the world, you will be much more productive when you’re excessively sober. You’re also more likely be a more agreeable member of society. If you are happy with the way things are currently going in your life, then it’s probably better to be excessively sober than it is to be excessively drunk. This way, you won’t risk disrupting or destabilizing aspects of your life.

happy life
If you’re getting everything out of life that you’ve ever wanted, and feel like your life allows you to be your true self, then being excessively sober is probably better than being excessively drunk, as it will better allow you to continue to maintain that life.

Excessive drinking, on the other hand, can help you to realize that you’re not actually satisfied with the way things are going in your life, that it’s not the life you’d always envisioned for yourself. Excessive drinking can spark (and pour gasoline on) the destructive fires of change necessary to put you on a path toward eventually living your ideal life.

In most circumstances, Excessive Sobriety wins this round, but there may sometimes be situations where it is better to give Excessive Drinking a chance to take over.

Round 4: Creativity & Open-Mindedness

Points for Excessive Drinking

Often, people can get stuck in one certain cycle of thinking and become very preoccupied with only the information in the forefront of their mind (what’s called “working memory“). This can be beneficial for certain analytical tasks such as data analysis or accounting, where there is one single proper way to complete a task, and that same method can be reused endlessly.

However, for tasks requiring creative and even divergent ways of approaching a situation, when the working memory is completely occupied it can actually block out alternative, more effective solutions.

Having too much going on in your working memory (your brain’s RAM) can blind you from considering alternative perspectives. Your overloaded RAM can block your creativity.

Basically, having too much going on inside the box (overthinking) makes it difficult to think outside the box. You can get tunnel vision if you keep approaching things with the same perspective, which can impede creativity.

So how does this apply to alcohol?

Alcohol impairs your working memory, causing less content to be floating around in the forefront of your mind. Alcohol causes your brain to “use less RAM”. This results in less of a barrier between your conscious thoughts and new ideas/perspectives. Therefore, you are more likely to realize, consider and accept alternative, unconventional, creative ideas.

Here’s a metaphor for it. Your brain is a nightclub. The nightclub is full of interesting, diverse, unique strangers (creative ideas). You (your conscious mind) are in the nightclub surrounded by a group of your same familiar friends (your working memory). However, this group of friends surrounds you all night and prevents you from encountering the other types of interesting, alternative, unique strangers. The more alcohol you drink, the looser your barrier of friends becomes and the more you are susceptible to encountering the strangers. The more you drink, the less your working memory (barrier of friends) impedes creative ideas (strangers) from coming to your conscious mind (you).

Your working memory can be a barrier between your conscious mind and creative ideas; alcohol knocks down pieces of this barrier.

Examples of manifestations of this process can include drunken epiphanies, eureka moments, sudden artistic ideas, an inclination to try new things, a willingness to interact with strangers and open-mindedness towards a person or a group of people that you previously felt more closed off to.

This same phenomenon is also why some people seem to get better at games requiring abstract thinking such as Pictionary and Charades after some drinks.

Points for Excessive Sobriety

On the flip side, if you’re always constantly drunk for an extended period of time, then there’s a chance that you’ll eventually lose a great deal of your cognitive power, creativity included. Keep punching holes in your memory for long enough and sooner or later you’re going to see some permanent effects.

If you’ve grown roots into a bar stool from sitting there all day every day for years, then in time your mind is going to rot away like seaweed on a beach after a hurricane. You’ll just be able to order another drink and watch sports; there probably won’t be too many creative ideas going on at that point.

Furthermore, a lot of ex-heavy drinkers will often tell you that when they quit drinking, it felt like a fog had been lifted and they actually felt like they could get in touch with a creative side that they had long lost contact with.

This makes sense in that if you are repetitively doing anything in the exact same way with little to no variation, it’s eventually going to make you a more closed-minded, uninspired individual. It’s easy to see how excessive drinkers can sometimes get stuck in a Groundhog Day type of rut.

Verdict:

Being drunk after a period of sobriety can help you to step out of established ruts in your thinking, and view things with novel and creative perspectives. However, if you’re consistently drunk for too many months on end, then you’ll have only created another established rut in your thinking.

I honestly believe that the key to maximizing creativity and open-mindedness is to flirt back and forth between periods of excessive sobriety and excessive drinking; whenever you’re feeling like you’re starting to stagnate creatively, then switch it up. That should change up your perceptions and ideas enough to prevent your mind from closing up and calcifying (the end of creativity).

Furthermore, although I have concocted most of my greatest ideas when I was excessively drinking, it was when I was excessively sober when I actually carried these ideas out. I think both states can complement each other; yin and yang and all that.

Alternating between periods of excessive drinking and excessive sobriety can contribute to making someone a more well-rounded, open-minded, creative person.
Alternating periods of Excessive Drinking and Excessive Sobriety can work together to maximize creativity and open-mindedness. They work together to both win this round.

Round 5: Socializing

Points for Excessive Drinking

In contemporary Western society, once people turn about 16 years old, the frequency of socializing sober decreases more and more each year. Especially after university, adults rarely meet socially without consuming alcohol unless it’s for work. An exception is if you’ve still managed to stay on a weekly sports team or something like that with your friends.

Especially for expats, people very rarely meet other people and make friends when not drinking. Part of the reason for this goes back to alcohol’s effect on brain chemistry, making people more open and sociable. However, it’s about more than just the effects of alcohol on the brain; it’s simply the way that Western society is structured. Bars are just the designated places where people are supposed to meet other people socially; that’s just the way it is.

Drinking excessively can be effective for meeting a lot of people in a short period of time, as long as you’re friendly and not too out of control. With a stranger you just met, you can have epic drunken conversations (that you won’t remember) that are more real, meaningful and significant than everything that you and your coworker have ever said to each other sober in the past 5 years.

Furthermore, having a bit of an introverted personality myself, when I’m excessively sober I just generally avoid groups of people as they usually tend to exhaust me. As well, I’m just much less interested in meeting or talking to people in general. For people with introverted personalities, excessive drinking can sometimes be the only way to care enough to make an effort to socialize or meet people.

Excessive drinking can be a good way to meet people and make new friends… but it can also be a great way to lose friends too.

Points for Excessive Sobriety

The other night, you may have met somebody when you were both at the perfect point of drunkenness and had the most heroic, Earth-shattering conversations, but the next time you see them you’re in a completely different headspace or a totally different style of drunk, like it’s two entirely different people talking now.

Similarly, you might’ve met the coolest f*cking person in the world and conversably solved all of the world’s problems together, but you can’t remember sh*t the next time you see them.

Finally, when drunk, people are often prone to rapid mood swings including less desirable moods such as anger and/or sadness. Furthermore, often excessive drinkers simply just end up being extremely drunk to the point of being barely communicable. Obviously, these are not inviting behaviors.

Verdict:

Excessive drinking (especially as an expat) is more likely to enable you to have a revolving door of different strangers to talk to and gather a broad range of different knowledge and perspectives from. This will, in turn, help you become a more well-rounded, intelligent, open-minded individual. Also, every now and then you’ll meet someone who over many drinking sessions, starts to slowly move from “that person in the bar that I sometimes drink with” to a friend.

However, you can also easily lose friends and acquaintances, especially if you are often barely coherent or acting like a drunk lunatic.

On the other hand, most of these are probably people that you probably would’ve never even met anyway if you were excessively sober. Therefore, I’d give this round a win for excessive drinking.

A strong victory for Excessive Drinking.

Round 6: Dating

Points for Excessive Drinking

Let’s be real. In 2021, 95% of the time you encounter a romantic interest (for the first time) will either be in a bar or on an app. There’s no f*ckin’ “meet a girl at the library” or “a museum” or any of that bs; that sh*t’s not real. If you want to meet someone for intimacy, you’d better get swiping on your phone, or get out to the bar.

Being drunk can give you the confidence and the I-don’t-give-a-f*ck-ness to try to pick up someone at a bar. You might strikeout twice as much as you would sober, but you’ll be going up to bat five times as much. Also, if you’re drunk then you probably won’t even care if you strikeout.

Unlike this dude, when you’re drunk you probably won’t give two f*cks if you strikeout.

I was excessively sober from 19-22 y.o. (after being super not-sober from 15-18 y.o.), and during my time of 100% sobriety was when I had the most relationship difficulties. Why?

Because I cared too much. I hate to say it, but it’s actually true: in a contemporary Western relationship, the person who cares the least is the person who has the most power. I’m not trying to be cynical, that’s just the way people are wired these days. That’s a good topic for a future post tho.

Excessive drinking can be an excellent way to be the person who cares the least, often because excessive drinking will distract you for a period of time and then cause you to have your own problems (such as a massive hangover) which are more immediate than having to worry about trying to please someone else.

Another point, being drunk together can be an effective way of getting to fully know somebody quickly and thoroughly. When you’re drunk, you’re more likely to express your true self, thoughts and feelings. Therefore, you don’t need to go through the monumental waste of time of meeting someone multiple times only to discover that you don’t like each other.

Getting drunk together can be an outstanding way to cut through the superficial bs and find out who each other really is.

Points for Excessive Sobriety

Although you may meet less romantic interests if you’re excessively sober, you’ll never have to worry about making a bad impression from being too drunk. Also, you’re less likely to end up being in a toxic relationship as a result of excessive drinking from one person or both people in the relationship.

Additionally, your body will probably be in better shape, your skin will glow more, your eyes won’t look as f*cked and you’ll have extra time and energy to put into dating. So there’s a decent chance that you will, on the surface at least, be a more desirable person to date. Also, you’ll be less likely to pass out at a time when you really shouldn’t be passing out.

Another thing to consider, if you are an excessive drinker then maybe the person you are dating is too. People who are excessive drinkers are generally more likely to sleep around often. Something to keep in mind.

Another point, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll end up discovering and exploring more shared interests with someone if you are sober. Getting drunk together is not an option, so you’ll figure out other things to do together and other types of activities and ideas you’re both into. Even if this is just something as simple as listening to music together or watching movies/series together, time spent together sober is effective at slowly growing a firm, legitimate foundation to a relationship.

And then of course, if you’re really drunk then there’s a chance that you’ll meet a really awesome girl in the bar and have great conversations for hours, but then not really remember. Like, “Sorry… It’s not your fault, honest.” :/

Verdict:

This one is really difficult.

I think… I would need to get drunk with a girl (less important whether she gets drunk or not too) before I could determine if she and I would have any sort of possibility of any type of future together.

It’s better if both people see the honest aspects of each other early on, rather than playing fake roles and feigning to be perfect people.

A young lady laughing with an older man in a fancy restaurant.
It’s a massive waste of time when people act fake af on a first date. Getting drunk is usually a good way to cut through the superficial, artificial bs.

It’s true, excessive drinking could cause a wedge to be driven between you and someone you’re dating, but I would argue that if she really liked me for who I truly am, then she would understand that excessive drinking is a part of who I am and she would look past that.

At the same time, in a long-term relationship, it is important to spend a great deal of comfortable sober time together at home, as that time invested together will allow you both to feel secure with one another, and create something more sustainable.

So I’d say, for a relationship, excessive drinking is best early on, as a sort of filter and as a defense/fall-back to prevent your emotions from getting hurt. If it makes it past that, then you can let your guard down a bit, and try switching it up to excessive sobriety to let your relationship grow organically through chill sober time spent together.

Nothing wrong with a bit of hot (non-alcoholic) tea at home. If you have a partner that you’re pretty sure you can trust, then you probably feel comfortable spending a lot of sober time together.

However, if you’re just having fun single and have no desire whatsoever to get in a relationship, then excessive drinking would probably take the win as taking the time to meet and interact with many different new people while sober can quite frankly be exhausting.

Excessive Drinking originally takes the win, but then later cedes the title to Excessive Sobriety.

The Grand Winner

So who is the grand winner? If it weren’t for the Physical Health category then I would say that Excessive Drinking beats Excessive Sobriety as long as you understand how to use Excessive Drinking, but not let it use you.

However, there is the ultimate fact that Excessive Drinking will make you feel physically terrible and will most likely kill you. That alone probably makes Excessive Sobriety the grand winner. Although it sucks, being sober is better than being dead.

And then there’s Moderate Drinking sitting over there in the corner.

Forest Gump waving and saying "Hi Guys"
What’s up Moderate Drinking.

“Experts” say Moderate Drinking (drinking one or two drinks) is what people should do, but honestly, drinking 1 to 2 drinks will provide almost zero noticeable alteration in perception whatsoever for most people. You’d might as well just be Excessively Sober, it’s basically the same thing. It’s like, what’s the f*cking point of having one or two drinks? Sometimes it almost seems like moderate drinkers are just holding a drink in their hand to fit in with social rules.

Still, on paper, Moderate Drinking probably makes the most sense. However, then you’d have to break contact with that part of yourself that Excessive Drinking brings out, your true deep-down self. It’d be like having to shoot your best friend. Someone who has been with you for years, has helped you through hard times, has built (and destroyed) relationships for you, has given you some of your greatest ideas and has contributed to helping you become the person that you are today.

Every time you’d chill with Moderate Drinking, you’d just find that he reminds you of your old best friend Excessive Drinking, and you’d probably just want to invite your old friend to come back out.

So the answer is, there is no easy answer. The creator of the universe thought it would be funny to make one of the most fun things in the world, as well as something almost vital to relaxing, socializing and tapping into creativity, also be something that will most likely kill you, or at least just make you feel haggard af all the time.

So I don’t f*cking know man.

That’s it.

That’s the honest answer.

If you have a better idea, or anything you’d like to share, let’s hear it in the comments.

Peace,

James | MosaicWriting.com

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