You may be great at math, but not so accomplished at calculating math of a good time. What does calculating math of a good time even mean? This is the second part of a look at alcohol or substance use or misuse. (See “The 5 Stages of Intoxication.”)
Calculating math of a good time
Have you ever had a fun night out with friends, drinking some creative cocktails, fine wine, or craft beer? Were you at a party and enjoying the conversations, or at a club dancing with a hot partner, or at a bar watching your team win? You’re having a great time and drinking a bit more than usual.
The next morning you may wake up with a headache and upset stomach for a couple of hours. A small price to pay, you tell yourself. And if it’s not a work day, no big deal. The math still works: You had fun for six hours, say, and felt bad for a couple of hours the next day. The net is a positive number.
Calculating math of a less-than-good time
The problem is when perhaps you have fun for six hours, but the negative consequences last longer than six hours. The net is a negative number. You have a hangover, and the digestive problems last a day or two. If the next day is a non-work day, the consequences aren’t fun, but don’t have professional consequences. However, if you’re a parent, you’re less available to your children, and if they’re young, that can be problematic for their safety and your relationship with them, especially if that happens frequently.
If the next day is a work day, your work performance may suffer. You may not be as sharp as you’d like. You may have to run to the restroom urgently and unexpectedly. Or you may be like a former boss of mine in the advertising industry in the 1980s, who came to a client meeting reeking of alcohol and mints.
Calculating math of a horrible time
In a more extreme version, you black out, meaning that you can’t remember things from the night before. You don’t lose consciousness. You’re there, but you aren’t there. Maybe you can’t remember where you parked the car. Or you can’t remember how you got home.
Perhaps you wind up in the ER with alcohol poisoning, and have no memory of how you got there. (The good news for college students these days that they are encouraged to help their friends get home and to call the campus ambulance corps if a fellow student is in bad shape.)
Maybe you go home with someone you wouldn’t have otherwise. Or you “come to” in the middle of having sex with someone. Perhaps, like someone I heard about, you fall and someone helps you home, comes in with you, rapes you, and robs you of cash and credit cards. The math of that incident was an overwhelmingly negative number, with months and years of negative consequences.
My former boss in advertising, an SVP whom I mentioned earlier, was in a blackout and came on to an account executive he supervised—years before the #Me Too movement. She reported him to HR and he lost his job and reputation. He eventually found a job as a janitor, got sober, and started all over. The math was negative, as were the many years of consequences.
How’s your math?
If your fun-to-consequence number tends to skew negative, you may want to explore your underlying issues with a professional, so that fun wins out.
As I mentioned in the previous blog post, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stop drinking. Some people benefit from moderating their drinking, others take a break from drinking and are able to return to drinking in a moderate fashion, and some need to stop permanently.
Some who decide to quit substances enjoy the fellowship and support of 12-step programs, or another program, such as Hip Sobriety. I’ve worked with people along with and instead of these programs. Everyone is different and needs to find the approach that works best for him or her.
If you want to explore your relationship to alcohol and/or other substances and to understand the root causes of your use, give me a call at 212-353-0296 or use the contact form to reach out by email.
Awareness is the first step toward calculating math of a good time.