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What is the Difference Between Being Sober vs Drunk

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As we talk about sobriety in the face of rising addiction problems, it is important to understand why addiction is detrimental to one’s daily life. This understanding can help us invest more time in healthy habits, away from the world of substance abuse.

Sober v Drunk understand why addiction detrimental

Every substance has a different effect on one’s mind and body. For example, heroin addicts suffer different consequences while those addicted to alcohol experience different repercussions. This article focuses on alcohol and its effects.

Being drunk is not just a state of a temporary lapse in judgment. It goes beyond that in affecting our normal body functions. To better understand it, let’s compare how our body functions after alcohol consumption versus when we’re sober.

What Exactly Is The Difference Between A Sober And Drunken State?

The differences between being sober and drunk are more than a mere behavior change. There are changes in one’s behavior, perception, movements, and emotions. Which consequently affects decision-making, cognitive abilities, and our overall well-being. 

Understanding these differences is crucial in comprehending how alcohol impacts the human body and mind. 

What Exactly Is A Sober State?

Simply put, being sober is a condition where an individual hasn’t consumed alcohol or any other intoxicating substance. Or when their blood alcohol levels are minimal or non-existent.

In this state, the body and mind are functioning within their normal parameters (except for someone with an illness that alters their brain function). When sober, your physical and mental capacity is normal, allowing you to act and think with clarity.

Cognitive Functions and Behavior When Sober

Sober individuals tend to maintain their usual level of mental clarity. Their behavioral standards remain consistent with their sober values, which are guided by a natural, unaffected conscience. 

Cognitive ability during a sober state is characterized by:

  1. Thought Clarity:

Sober individuals can execute rational thinking. They process information more clearly, leading to more accurate decision-making.

  1. Memory and Learning:

In a sober state, memory functions tend to remain more intact. Short-term memory functions optimally. This aids in the retention of recent information. However, long-term memory formation and recall are generally unaffected.

  1.  Attention and Concentration:

Sober individuals can maintain focus on tasks, conversations, or activities for extended periods. This leads to better levels of productivity and reduced distractibility. 

  1.  Problem-Solving and Decision-Making:

Sober people can logically approach issues and make decisions with a balanced perspective. They can consider all repercussions instead of being impulsive.

  1.  Emotional Regulation:

The ability to regulate emotions is better in a sober state. You can react to situations more appropriately than you would when drunk.

  1. Motor Skills and Coordination:

In a sober state, an individual’s motor skills and coordination work to the best of their abilities. Their movements are precise, their balance is fine, and their speech isn’t slurred.

  1. Perception and Senses:

Sensory perception during a sober state is not distorted, ensuring an accurate understanding of the surrounding environment.

What Is A Drunk State?

Alcohol intoxication leads to a range of behavioral changes and physiological issues due to the consumption of alcoholic drinks. These effects are more pronounced with increasing blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels. A state where alcohol consumption leads to physical and psychological effects is being drunk.

Cognitive and Physiological Effects When Drunk

Drunk people exhibit impaired mental and behavioral functions influenced by elevated blood alcohol levels

These shortcomings can be seen in the following ways:

  1.  Impaired Judgment and Decision-Making:

Alcohol consumption can impair one’s judgment and decision-making abilities. Alcohol affects the prefrontal cortex in the brain, hindering one’s ability to assess situations and make rational choices.

  1. Memory and Learning Impairment:

Alcohol affects short-term memory and the ability to create new memories. This leads to gaps in memory formation. This is why drunk people find it difficult to recall events when they’re under the influence. Chronic alcohol use can also impact long-term memory.

  1. Reduced Attention and Concentration:

Alcohol impacts the brain’s ability to concentrate for extended periods. This means drunk people are easily distracted and can’t focus on a task.

  1. Slowed Reaction Time and Coordination:

Alcohol impairs motor skills and coordination (depending on the amount of alcohol consumed). It slows reaction times and reflexes- making movements less precise. 

  1. Distorted Perception:

Alcohol can alter sensory perception, leading to distorted vision, hearing, and other senses. This can put individuals in harm’s way due to not being able to perceive danger.

  1. Emotional Regulation and Behavior:

Alcohol use may cause emotionally inappropriate behavior. It can diminish inhibitions, causing individuals to behave erratically and impulsively.

  1. Sleep Disruption:

Alcohol intoxication may disrupt the sleep cycle. This disruption can affect cognitive performance, leading to tiredness and reduced alertness the following day.

How To Get Sober And Remain That Way

Continued alcohol abuse can lead to alcohol addiction, leading to a constant state of drunkenness. This causes a fundamental change in behavioral standards and the formation of harmful habits. 

Hence, it’s important to sober up and avoid falling prey to addiction. Here are some ways you can sober up after a heavy night of drinking (if you are not already addicted to alcohol):

  1. Cold showers: these work to make drunk people more conscious and gain a better perception
  2. Sleep it off
  3. Work out
  4. Indulge in hangover meals
  5. Count your drinks when you have them
  6. Switch to drinks with a lower alcohol concentration

Recovery and Long-Term Sober Living:

Sobriety refers to a period of refraining from alcohol consumption in any form. This transition might involve taking up new habits and behaviors. 

If you’re a recovering alcoholic, the first step to recovery is realizing the extent of the problem. Try adopting a new way of life that involves attending recovery programs (such as the A.A. meetings in the United States), establishing healthy habits, and undergoing proper treatment to combat alcohol addiction

Recovery is an ongoing process that might involve withdrawal symptoms and physical discomforts. Hence, it’s important to have a strong will and consistency to keep yourself going on the path of sobriety.

Understanding the differences between sober and drunk states is crucial to comprehend the effects of alcohol on an individual’s overall well-being. 

These effects can be significant, resulting in both physical and mental health issues. Transitioning to a sober life is a constant effort that requires dedication, support, and a fundamental change in habits and behaviors, enabling individuals to lead healthier and more fulfilling lives.

About the author
Shannon M
Shannon M's extensive experience in addiction recovery spans several decades. Her journey started at a young age when she attended treatment aftercare sessions for a family member and joined Alateen meetings, a support group for young people affected by a loved one's addiction. In 1994, Shannon personally experienced the challenges of addiction and took the courageous step of joining Alcoholics Anonymous. This experience gave her a unique perspective on the addiction recovery process, which would prove invaluable in her future work. Shannon's passion for helping others navigate the complexities of addiction led her to pursue a degree in English with a minor in Substance Abuse Studies from Texas Tech University. She completed her degree in 1996, equipping her with the knowledge and skills necessary to provide compassionate and effective support to those struggling with addiction.