Whether it’s bar hopping with your closest friends, relaxing at home with a glass of wine, or another context in which alcohol is involved, drinking can lead to unintended consequences. Many of us have done things we regret when we’ve had a bit too much to drink. Consider this all-too-common experience:
You wake up after a night of heavy drinking, probably with a splitting headache and an intense need to chug all of the water in your immediate vicinity. As you slowly recover from your night of fun, you check your phone and realize you’ve sent some pretty embarrassing drunk texts. If you’re lucky, the most you sent out was some incomprehensible keyboard smashing or maybe a simple “Hey” with way too many Ys. But if you’re unlucky, you may have sent some messages that should’ve stayed safely locked away in your brain.
If you’ve experienced the above scenario, you might have some questions. For example, what is it about drinking that makes us do things we regret like send embarassing texts? Is texting while drunk a normal behavior? You may also wonder if there’s any way to stop it. Don’t worry. We’ll dive into exactly what causes drunk texting and what you can do to address it.
Why Alcohol Can Make Us Send Embarrassing Texts
Did you know that there are a few scientific reasons that we tend to send messages after having too much to drink? First, drinking lowers inhibitions. While the science can get a bit complex, the basic idea is that alcohol targets the parts of the brain responsible for controlling behavior and recognizing consequences. So, while sober you may realize that messaging certain people is a poor idea, when drunk you will have a harder time reaching the same conclusion.
In one study, 89 percent of participants had sent a drunk text and over 40 percent felt guilty about it after the fact. Because alcohol acts as a “social lubricant,” the more alcohol people consumed, the more likely they were to call, text, or post on social media. When we’re drunk, we feel more confident and think that we can express ourselves better than when we’re sober.
But why is texting after drinking so common? Experts have suggested that this stems from two types of motivation: escape and express motivations. Express motivations are when we prefer texting over calling or talking in person because we feel we can express ourselves better. Escape motivations stem from a desire to relieve boredom or escape from the current moment. In studies, escape motivations are the primary driving forces behind texting while drunk. So, really, drunk texts come from the same impulse as pulling our phone out when in a meeting or class.
Is Texting While Drunk Normal?
As with many things, this is a bit of a tricky question. For the most part, texting while drunk is a very common experience. However, that doesn’t mean that you should be doing it regularly. First, contacting people while drunk can have serious consequences. Doing so can cause embarrassment and shame, or even lead to the loss of a relationship. Repeat drunk messaging can even harm your mental health, increasing the risk of depression and anxiety.
Beyond that, frequently sending out drunk texts means that you are regularly drinking in excess and becoming intoxicated. This could indicate issues with alcohol use and that it may be time to address your drinking habits.
While the “safe” number of drinks varies from person to person, the general medical advice is to limit yourself to between two and six standard drinks a week. Ultimately, you need to decide for yourself how much is too much. If you need help with this, reaching out to a doctor or alcohol addiction specialist can be beneficial.
How to Avoid Texting While Drunk
Thankfully, there are a few tricks you can use to avoid texting while drunk. The first and most effective is simply to not drink as much or as often. Beyond that, take steps to limit your ability to text.
One option is to ask a friend to help you keep your hands away from your phone. While this might be embarrassing, the drunk text would probably be worse. It’s important to choose the right person for the job since they have to be both capable and willing to keep you off of your phone.
Alternatively, change the settings on your phone to make it more of a pain to access your text messaging app. For example, you could turn on airplane mode to prevent you from sending or receiving any messages or calls. You can also delete or block contacts that you don’t want to message after you’ve had a few drinks. If you’d like to keep the contact, you could rename it instead. Some people also find it effective to change the language on their phones.
Finally, if you really want to avoid texting but still want to drink, just leave your phone at home or with a trusted friend. If you can’t easily access it, your drunk self won’t be able to send out any messages. This requires you to have a plan of action for the night, such as how to get home and how to get in contact with others in an emergency—but it’s usually a good idea to make plans like that anyway.
What To Do If You Struggle To Control Your Drinking
The best way to address drunken texting is to control your drinking. Establish a drinking goal that works for you. Some people are perfectly fine having a few drinks and then stopping themselves. Others may struggle to stop after one drink and may need to avoid alcohol entirely. Examine your drinking habits as objectively as possible and make a choice that will most benefit you.
If you think that you should stop drinking entirely or if, despite your best efforts, you’re still having difficulty keeping your alcohol intake in check, don’t feel ashamed. Millions of people experience issues with alcohol consumption every day. The first step is recognizing that you don’t have to work through it alone. Friends and family can be great support structures in your efforts to limit a drinking problem.
Beyond this, contact a doctor or an addiction specialist that you can trust. Everyone is different and some approaches don’t work for some people. By working with an expert, you can learn exactly what goal is best for you and what steps you can take together to reach it.
At FHE Health, we understand how difficult it can be to manage drinking and its effects. If you think you might have issues with alcohol or if you’ve experienced difficulties because of drinking, reach out to our experts for help. Feel free to call us at (833) 596-3502 or contact us online.