I HATED my first beer.
I was 12 years old, and my father, my mother, and my brother were on vacation somewhere I can’t quite recall.
I asked my father for a sip, and like the wise man who understood saying no would only make me want it more, he gave me a sip. I won’t be subtle, it tasted like bottled piss.
Cut to 12 years later, and I’m drinking gin straight from the bottle, mixing Grey Goose with Black Label (cause you know, I'm in a rap video), downing Haywards 5000 one day and drinking rum from a tetra pack (cause you know, I'm poor) and drinking pretty much every day till I pass out.
Not asleep, not “good night, sweet dreams”.
Now, I’m older(inevitably) and wiser(debatably), and I’ve learned how to drink a LITTLE more sensibly, but NOT without incident.
Don’t Mix Your Drinks
I’d gone for my friend’s sister’s wedding in Mumbai. We were at the cocktail party. My friend was supposed to play the guitar and sing for his sister’s special day.
The party had an open bar. Open. Bar.
My first drink was, I think a large Black Label on the rocks. The next one was some Grey Goose with cranberry. The third drink was, I think, a long island iced tea. I can’t remember what the fourth drink was. Or the fifth. Or the sixth.
The next thing I DO remember, is waking up on a couch that's bang in the middle of the dance floor. Over 200 members of my friend’s extended family as well as his brother-in-law’s extended family are on the dance floor. I am NOT well hidden. They see me stirring and moving. My alcohol-addled brain slowly puts 2 and 2 together.
I sat up with a start, and banged my head on a low-hanging overhead block of wood. And pass back out. I think it was made of some REALLY strong wood.
I woke up an hour or two later and my friend is ushering me, with his family, into a cab.
And I remember thinking, or rather, my last clear thought, was “Hey. I’m not done! I wanna party! There’s an open bar!”
My friend was livid the next day. And I was hungover and more than a little embarrassed, because being the guy who did that, especially at a good friend’s sister’s wedding....wasn’t the greatest feeling in the world. His family still thinks of me as an uncontrolled alcoholic, so here’s to great first impressions.
Instead, pick ONE kind of drink and AVOID the urge to mix your drinks. It's the quickest way to go from fun drunk to "I'm worried about you, do you need to sit down, are you okay, do we need to carry you?"-drunk.
Don’t Mix Medication With Alcohol
This is no joke. There’s nothing funny about mixing medication(prescription or otherwise) with alcohol. No joke. Don’t do it.
I was going to narrate a relatively tame story, because most of the others are horrifying and involve deep emotional shame.
But I'd rather give you a taste of a few different moments.
Do I tell you about the time I popped anti-anxiety pills with alcohol and kicked someone close to me?
Or about the time I was attending a concert and ended up on stage with the band with NO clue why or how I ended up there?
Or perhaps I should tell you about the time I mixed prescription pills with alcohol, and told my then-girlfriend of nearly two years how I thought she was always holding me back? And that I thought we should have never been together?
Or maybe I should tell you about the time I mixed anti-stress medication with some VERY strong whiskey and became the worst, most unfiltered, most shameless version of myself, devoid of all goodness, and ended up alienating my closest friends of over 15 years.....to the point where they said I had to pick either continued self-abuse or their friendship?
Instead, if you're taking medication, whether it's a daily thing or a prescription medicine, don't mix alcohol with it.
Speak to your doctor. They're more than likely to advise against it anyway, and in some cases, it could be fatal, as they'll tell you.
I was fortunate enough to not have mixed medication with alcohol in a dangerous combination(because while I was a deviant, I was still a well-informed deviant who did his research about the dangers of combining the two).
Don’t Drink on an Empty Stomach
I’d gone for a concert in Mumbai, in late-2014. I was watching Bonobo and Snarky Puppy, two artists I absolutely love.
Unfortunately, I was at a time in my life when I was making little to no money, and too proud to borrow from my friends.
I had less than Rs 2,000(this is ALL the money I had) and I had to stay in Mumbai. So, obviously, this meant making a choice between food or accommodation.
So, the sensible person that I am, I opted to forego food for accommodation.
I hadn’t eaten anything the whole day, because of the aforementioned poverty, but more importantly because I was being irrationally stubborn.
My friends had brought a bottle of Old Monk, and some Imperial Blue. So, on an empty stomach, I started drinking. I had a few shots of Old Monk, got to the concert, and my friend and I started taking swigs of the Imperial Blue, because we had to finish the bottle(yeah. such responsible drinking) before we entered.
I remember almost nothing. I know we took photos, because there were photos the next day. But I literally only remember vague flashes of light, and I think, just one song.
I’ll never forget the time I couldn’t remember attending a Bonobo concert.
Needless to say, lesson learned. Never drink on an empty stomach.
Instead opt for a moderate to large amount of lean protein in the hours before you drink. That's one of the healthiest options, but if not that, just make sure you eat something before you drink.
Eating BEFORE you drink is important, because it slows the absorption rate of alcohol. Lean protein is especially beneficial, because it breaks down slowly and that slows the alcohol absorption more.
Well I don't have any crazy stories about dehydration. I mean, what story starts with, "I was sooooo dehydrated this one time!" Dehydration can lead to pain and extreme discomfort, throwing up, and completely avoidable hangovers the next day.
Drink a glass of water, or even a glass and a half for every alcoholic drink you have. Hydrate enough, and your body will thank you the next day.
Also, you need to hydrate adequately the next day. While water helps, for me, tender coconut water has always been helpful in rehydrating, because it's loaded with important electrolytes that your body may have lost while drinking.
(Vishnu Gopinath is a journalist with The Quint. He tweets at @VishnuSaysWhat. This blog is based on his personal experiences with alcohol. FIT recommends you to consult your doctor/nutritionist before embarking on any diet)