Liquid Courage: Why Does Drinking Make Us More Confident?

People with Liquid CourageIt is not at all unusual for a person to take a drink before a stressful moment in their life. Whether we’re talking about a nervous young man preparing to call a woman and ask her out or a businessman preparing for a big presentation, a shot of liquid courage is often part of the “pre-game ritual.”

We all believe that alcohol makes us braver. Is it a myth? Is it just a psychological crutch, or does alcohol really provide false courage to us in our time of need? If alcohol really does have this power, is one drink enough to deliver it?

What are the chemical effects of alcohol on the brain?

Alcohol has a number of neurological effects, including memory loss, drowsiness, slowed reflexes, and other things that aren’t quite as sexy as a confidence boost or lowered inhibitions. The lowered inhibitions are part of the effect, though, as is impaired judgment. The combined result is that people do things while drinking that they might not ordinarily do, including acts of bravery.

In terms of an actual boost in confidence or courage, there is little evidence to support a neurological reason for this. However, the GoLocalProv website has an article that explains that people believe the courage boost exists, and that may actually be enough to create the courage boost. Confused? If you believe that alcohol makes you into Brad Pitt or Jason Statham, one drink will probably be enough to make you do something really brave, or at least really stupid.

What are the advantages of liquid courage?

There are times when the courage that alcohol provides, or the courage that you believe alcohol provides, really comes in handy. As mentioned, the psychological boost of a quick, small drink before going into an unpleasant meeting or doing something challenging can be huge. If, however, you need a drink to get the courage to take the garbage out or call your mother, you might have a bigger problem, depending on just how rough your mother actually is.

There is a pretty strong argument for the idea that procreation would not happen and the human race would go extinct without alcohol. Men, in general, are terrified of going up to women and talking to them unless they’ve had a bit to drink. Women, in general, don’t trust men they don’t know and wouldn’t speak to them if they didn’t have their inhibitions loosened by alcohol. There’s a reason why so many hookups happen at bars and drinking parties.

What are the dangers of liquid courage?

If a few drinks make you ask out the supermodel at the bar, all you’re risking is a little public humiliation. If, however, you had your few drinks at a biker bar and your newfound lack of inhibitions causes you to launch into your speech equating Harley ownership with lack of, or at least diminished, manhood, well, you’ve just crossed into the danger zone, my friend.

One type of verbal bravery people encounter through alcohol is when people lose their “filter” when drinking and just say what’s on their mind. Unfortunately, what’s on our mind is often rude, crude, and socially unacceptable. This inevitably leads to damaged personal relationships and, in some cases, missing teeth.

The lack of good judgement that people interpret as courage when drinking can cause people to do all manner of crazy and self-destructive things. If you have any doubts about this, watch any “Jackass” movie or TV show, or even the darker moments of “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” Drunken people tend to look at a potentially dangerous situation and say “Aw heck, I can do that.” This often ends up with a cell phone video on YouTube and/or a visit to the emergency room.

How much alcohol does it take to lose good judgement?

There is a general assumption that all it takes is one good drink to take the edge off and give you the boost of courage you need to nail that presentation or impress the beauty at the end of the bar, but there is only limited truth to this. One drink may well be enough to make you believe that you have more confidence or that you are a little more attractive than before, but in terms of actually losing your judgement and doing the kind of crazy and dangerous things you wouldn’t ordinarily do, it’s going to take some more serious drinking.

It is a generally accepted drinking myth that one drink an hour will keep you from losing your sense of good judgment. In reality, the physiological effects of alcohol depend on a lot of factors, and the one drink an hour rule doesn’t take any of them into account.

The weight of the person drinking it will affect how quickly the alcohol is absorbed and broken down. The state of mind and the amount of rest the person has had will also contribute to the effect of the alcohol. The website Lifehacker also points out that age, gender, and the amount of food you eat before drinking will affect how well your body handles the alcohol.

For some people, one drink an hour is enough to have them dancing on a table with a lampshade on their head; for others, three shots in fifteen minutes still won’t be enough to get a good buzz on.

Is alcohol truly courage in a bottle? Probably not, but it can give you a psychological boost and lower your inhibitions. Used sparingly and in the right situations, alcohol can help to get you through some tough spots, but you have to be careful not to allow yourself to do something really stupid and dangerous.