Do People Tell the Truth When They Are Drunk?

Due to situations like these, and the tendency of most people to be overly friendly and obnoxious when they’re tanked, there’s a widely held perception out there that drunken people are brutally honest. But does that mean that a good way to find out if your fiancé is cheating on you is to ask him after he’s stumbled home loaded from the pub? Maybe, but just remember, people aren’t required to drink a case of beer before they testify in court.

Why do I act stupid when I’m hammered?

Alcohol isn’t called a “social lubricant” because it’s known for making most people quiet and reserved, although every bar seems to have at least one surly dude who doesn’t want to be bothered. While most people can have a few drinks and still keep it together relatively well, once that “few drinks” becomes “many” the shenanigans often begin.

So why did your painfully shy buddy do the “Moonwalk” at the club after having a few shooters? Or what gave you the courage to start chatting up that cute girl at your buddy’s house party? And then not stop making out with her, even after you were told that her massively huge boyfriend was just outside?

There has been no shortage of medical studies done on the effects of alcohol, due in large part to the fact that drunkenness is a contributing factor in thousands of vehicle accidents, fisticuffs, and unwanted pregnancies each year. What the research shows is that, once the body has a certain amount of alcohol pulsing throughout it, the central nervous system doesn’t perform properly.

Turns out that unlike gin and tonic, neurotransmitters and alcohol don’t mix very well. After a few, boozy beverages, the neurotransmitters in the frontal lobe of our brains in particular don’t function terribly great. As you may have already guessed, that’s the part of our brain that’s responsible for evaluating circumstances and making decisions. So, in other words, it’s their fault if you decided to take your shirt off on the dance floor last Friday night.

But am I more likely to tell the truth?

Probably. Since alcohol impairs your ability to reason and contemplate repercussions, then you’re likely to be more forthcoming when you’re drunk. For example, if you think your girlfriend’s cousin is hot, you’re probably more likely to tell her when you’re hammered. Chances are that a sober person would stop themselves before flirting with said cousin, and conclude that telling them they “have a great ass” probably won’t go over so well with their spouse.

Or, if your co-worker has had brutal body odor for the last week and you just can’t stand the stench any longer, you’re more likely to tell him after a few post-work cocktails. After all, you’re just being honest, right? Whether it hurts their feelings may not matter at the time. In fact, a recent study by the University of Missouri College of Arts and Sciences found that intoxicated people were less likely to be bothered by their behaviour.

In other words, research like this seems to demonstrate that too much alcohol can make a person do or say something that they ordinarily wouldn’t for fear of the consequences. It doesn’t, however, show that the character of a person completely changes when they’re drunk. If you told your partner you can’t stand their mother when you were completely tanked, chances are you probably don’t.

Just because someone is hammered, however, doesn’t necessarily mean they lose the ability to lie. How often do police officers pull over a drunk driver, only to be told by the wasted citizen they’ve had “just one drink, like, three hours ago.” In addition, as any substance abuse program will tell you, one of the telltale signs of a drinking problem is if an alcoholic comes home reeking of booze, but denies having had anything to drink.

So what’s the lesson? Not everyone has the same tolerance level when it comes to alcohol, and not every drunk acts the same.

What are some of the signs that I’ve had a few too many?

While telling a complete stranger at the pub that their hat “looks stupid” could be one sign, other indications that it’s probably time to get the check include slurred speech, diminished motor skills, and, of course, blurry vision. If you keep tossing back drinks past these symptoms, then chances are vomiting, a blackout of the night’s activities, and a fearsome hangover are in your future.