The Hangover Generation

I used to wonder why people would want to get so drunk they black out.

You hear it on the radio, all the pop singers singing their party anthems. Don’t think, just drink, don’t stop, dance ’til you drop, and wake up tomorrow with a fresh tattoo, someone else’s clothes and no memory of the previous night.

Why do we want this? Why have fun that we can’t remember? I think I’m beginning to understand. I’m not there yet, but I can empathize.

We aren’t becoming the hangover generation because we like being drunk. We’re the hangover generation because we’re afraid of being sober.

Sobriety brings awareness, reflection, introspection, and all the ugly truths that these uncover.

Drunkenness could bring anything.

The lost weekend could be anything you can imagine. Maybe you did a triple handstand. Maybe you pissed in Brad Pitt’s pool. Maybe you had the best sex of your life. Who can say you didn’t?

But whatever it was, it has to have been better than all those shitty weekends you do remember, right? Why would I get so wasted if if wasn’t worthwhile?

Even the hangover headache has its purpose, because on some level, we believe in a kind of endorphin karma. If I feel this bad now, I must have felt that good then. And wasn’t it worth it, if at some point, for just a moment, life felt meaningful again?

I now understand the joke, “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.” I’d thought the joke was just in the wordplay, but there’s a deeper truth in there. We’re looking for a way to forget, to take away our self-awareness, and if one method takes an ice pick up the nose and the other takes a few fifths of Jack, well…it’s an easy enough decision to make.

Listen to those songs again: Do you hear it? Under the ecstasy, the undercurrent of desperation, fear, denial? It’s the first stage of a generation’s grief, realizing they’re never going to be any happier. That life is all there is. That the American Dream is one you don’t wake up from.

We’re discovering that the ladder we’ve been climbing–the ladder that was supposed to bring happiness and fulfillment–is pasted to the inside of a hamster ball. We climb as fast as we can, and the scenery changes, but no progress, no promotion, no change in our external world does a thing to change what’s inside, to satisfy the ravenous emptiness that chases us down dark alleys.

So we stop climbing. We stop rolling. We stop moving.

And after we sit there a while, we figure, if there’s no point in the climb, maybe a drink will make things just a little bit better. 

And just one more drink.

Just one more drink.

If that doesn’t work, maybe one more joint of weed.

And just one more joint.

Just one more joint.

Maybe a little hit of something stronger will do the trick.

And just one more hit.

Just one more hit.

Just one more

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12 Responses to The Hangover Generation

  1. Pingback: Say No To The Dress | Mindless Productivity

  2. Really excellent analysis of current and previous generations’ methods of self medication. I like to say one drink tastes good and anything extra I won’t be able to taste anyhow or realize I’m tasting so why bother? Ps can you understand why doctors have higher than average rates of substance abuse?

    • Is that actually a thing? Huh.

      My only guess would be to deal with the stress of a life-or-death occupation. Plus, I suppose they might have more access to medically controlled substances.

      • Yeah, last year, a few lectures on behavioral science scared the living daylights out of some of us first years. The numbers of depression and suicide and divorce seem to be greater among physicians as well. Maybe blogging will keep me from being another statistic someday?

        Also, you make a good point about access to drugs, especially among those who practice anesthesia or give pain relief injections.

      • This was an interesting comic I found today about the Rat Park studies into drug addiction with rats. I found it interesting:

        http://www.stuartmcmillen.com/comics_en/rat-park/

      • Definitely a throw back to principles we covered in behavioral science. (Retweeted the comic.) My professor espoused the following model as opposed to the choice model (disease = defect in character, person can choose addiction.)

        ○ Choice based on genetics
        ○ Social learning: friends’ influence
        ○ Reinforcement: feels good, works for them
        ○ Conditioning and consequences by age 22
        ○ Reward and memory changes by 25
        ○ Hedonic changes by 28ish
        ○ All problems are set and in place by age 30

        Quite interesting.

      • So if you avoid drugs until you’re 30, are you safe from addiction?

      • Exactly, ice cream being the only exception.

  3. roadwax says:

    The Hamsters Ball is invitation-only. You don’t find many fall-down drunks inside a refugee transit camp. Sure, many of us create our own Garden of Forgetfulness by self-administering alcohol and narcotics but not necessarily to forget. We do it also to release, to create a punctuation mark between our breathless paragraphs. Besides, I can only cope with visits from my elder bro if I’m hung over. If wide awake and sober, I would be an only child, by now…

  4. Spot on! Glad I don’t have to live like that anymore

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