Why Am I Such a Lightweight Drinker?

Concerned Lightweight Woman

Some people just can’t handle their liquor. If you happen to be one of them, your friends and colleagues might look down on you a little bit, and you might just find your evenings ending sooner than they should. In fact, nobody would blame you if you were to ask the heavens why the heck you, of all people, are such a lightweight drinker.

The good news is that, for a light drinker, two or three drinks may be enough for you to actually hear a voice from the heavens answer you, although that’s probably not a conversation you want to have right now.

What are some signs of being a lightweight drinker?

Lack of ability to hold your liquor might affect you in a variety of different ways. First off, you’re going to get drunk much more quickly. The early signs of this will be when you find yourself becoming wittier and you seem to be a major hit with the opposite sex. The later signs will be when a friend tells you that the members of the opposite sex that you were such a hit with left three hours ago and since then you’ve been talking to a wheelbarrow.

You might also find yourself getting sick more quickly or more severely when you are a lightweight drinker. Some light drinkers seem to skip over the whole experience of being drunk and go straight to the fun and excitement of tenderly holding the porcelain bowl and playing “Name that Food Group” from each of your last three meals as they swirl slowly down the toilet. Speaking of getting sick, you’re more likely to have a bad hangover if you’re a lightweight drinker than if you’re a seasoned pro.

What are some reasons why my alcohol tolerance may be low?

When figuring out why you can’t handle your alcohol very well, the quick answer may be “You don’t get out enough.” A great deal of tolerance for alcohol is what is called “functional tolerance”, which is actually your brain compensating for the disrupting effects of alcohol. The more practice it has, the better it gets at this, so the next time someone says you’re drinking too much, you can say “Shut up, I’m training my brain!”

Another type of tolerance is metabolic tolerance, which is genetic, so you don’t really have much control over it at all. Basically, metabolic tolerance describes the action of alcohol-processing enzymes you have in your body to absorb and degrade the alcohol – more enzymes leave you less drunk. Another genetic factor is alcoholism—if one of your parents is an alcoholic, you are more likely to be able to handle your booze better, according to studies.

Your body mass also affects your ability to handle alcohol. Obviously, if that shot of whiskey is spread over 350 pounds, it’s going to have a little less effect than if it’s spread over 80 pounds. This means that, while the thin girls are passed out at the bar in a pool of their own vomit, the larger women will have their pick of any man in the bar, assuming the men are not also passed out in a pool of their own vomit or actively hitting on a wheelbarrow.

What are the dangers of a higher alcohol tolerance?

In the long run, being a lightweight drinker may not be such a bad thing. Those with a higher tolerance for alcohol have to drink more to get a good buzz going, so they get all those nasty side effects of alcohol multiplied, such as organ damage, needing to use the bathroom every five minutes, and having a belly like a bass drum. They also get to pay a lot more to get drunk.

Perhaps the most serious danger of a higher alcohol tolerance involves drunk driving. People with a higher tolerance for alcohol often mistakenly think that alcohol has no effect on them at all. This is not the case, and in a situation like driving, a relatively small increase in reaction time can be the difference between life and death. Also, drunk driving laws are based on how much alcohol is in your system, not how drunk you are, so if you’ve had a lot to drink but still aren’t really drunk, you can still be arrested for drunk driving.

You might be a lightweight drinker for any number of reasons, but in any case it’s probably not a bad thing. You just need to learn to drink slowly over more time and get some good friends who will keep you from talking to wheelbarrows, and then you should be fine. If nothing else, you’ll save a fortune on bar tabs.