Renovating Your Mind‘s memory brings into view past experience involving age, alcohol and medication. Remember Ms. Whitney Houston’s untimely demise.
I had been employed as a waiter at a private club. One of my favorite customers, an elderly couple, had their beautiful relationship come to an abrupt end. The husband suffered a heart attack and passed away. His wife continued visiting the restaurant alone. During her solo visits to the restaurant she began ordering more rounds than usual. Like many people throughout the world, she was using alcohol as her medicine for coping with life without her significant other.
Want to interrupt this story with public health announcement about the difference between men and women… and alcohol.
Women don’t break down alcohol as fast as men. Ladies contain less of the scissors (enzymes) that cut up and metabolize this numbing vice. In addition, women have more fatty tissue. In females, alcohol levels build up faster and higher compared to males with more muscle tissue. That’s why you sometimes hear the slang term, “women are cheap dates” because it doesn’t usually cost as much for them to reach the “feeling good” level as it does for a man.
As we age, both sexes start breaking down alcohol slower, therefore levels rise in the body.
Reasons for this are:
- Older people imbibe less often so not used to amounts of alcohol we pelted down in our youth.
- Gaining weight allows alcoholic effects to linger longer.
- As the liver ages, it’s not as efficient in breaking down alcohol.
- Chronic use of medications competes with alcohol for breakdown leading to permanent organ damage.
Now kids, back to our story.
Mrs. Martini had 3 drinks that particular night. About 10 minutes after I served her the entrée, I checked back in on her. Her head had fallen forward and Mrs. M’s entire face was engaged within the mashed potatoes. Gently, got her face out of her plate. She opened her eyes and looked at me as if to say what’s wrong. Then I wiped the potatoes and gravy off her face. Got a wet cool towel and some water for her to drink while I had one of the other employees call for an ambulance. Translating from her slurred speech, I discovered she had taken an anti-anxiety agent before coming to visit us.
So to add more detail and summarize:
A female in her late 70’s, that was already on antidepressants had taken lorazepam (same group as Valium) before going out for dinner. Three martinis later, she became fully acquainted with her mashed potatoes. Mrs. Martini’s excessive self-medication with alcohol may have led to her untimely demise if she was home alone repeating this behavior.
Well the good news is that she was ok. The next week when she came in I served her a club soda with a twist of lime in a martini glass. Remember her winking at me when she started sipping her virgin drink.
Facts about drinking and the body:
- Carbonation increases the rate of alcohol absorption into body. Most tend to get drunk faster.
- Altitude plays a major role in causing you to feel tipsy sooner. Think plane or places high above sea level like Denver, CO. Can get easily dehydrated in these situations causing blood alcohol concentrations to soar.
- Additives in your drink, increase chance of headache and later hangovers. Lesser risk with colorless drinks especially if sensitive to colors, tannins and preservatives.
- Caffeine doesn’t neutralize alcohol’s effect. You will not get sober any sooner. Normal body processes take about one hour to break down the alcohol in one drink.
- Never take painkillers (acetaminophen, oxycodone, hydrocodone, etc.) or anti-inflammatory drugs the same day as alcohol. You risk internal bleeding, liver damage and possibly death when you mix these medications with drinking.
Think before you drink. Always consume water before you start, between rounds and finish off with three glasses of aqua when you’re boozing is completed. This will hydrate you and help relieve some of the cotton mouth the morning after the insult.