The Different Types of Drunk You Can Be

One major revelation of adulthood is that nearly everyone drinks in some fashion. People who abstain are assumed to be weird, or to have a medical issue and/or traumatic history involving alcohol, and when they disclose to you that they don’t drink you’re expected to look at them, eyes saucer-wide, trying very hard to have respect and understanding for their history and position while a private panic alarm sounds off somewhere inside your fuzzy temple demanding to know how you are ever supposed to chill with them and what you are supposed to talk about with them.

Early in your young life drinking was something that people generally only did for ‘scenes’ in television and film, where people were dramatically ‘hoisting’ mugs full of [something] while indulging in some sort of overt, clichéd revelry. Many children’s films had the ‘token drunk bro’ who would be some kind of fat guy with a red nose who could be found under a table or behind an edifice clutching a bottle, hiccupping. The token drunk bro was rarely malevolent, nor was he (always a male) necessarily even a negative stereotype; he was totes jovial, the ‘party joke’, and often when he hiccupped rainbow soap bubbles would appear. Hic!

As a result, barring the rare and unfortunate occasion where you would be at a family event and your mother and/or other close relative would have several too many and be confusingly red-cheeked and in the throes of uncharacteristic behavior, the average individual [excluding those who were raised in proximity to alcoholism and as such developed a propensity for the normalization of drinking alongside a heart-rending state of early adulthood] generally matured conceiving of drinking under two disparate umbrellas: ‘not drunk’ and ‘drunk.’

In fact, there are several gradients of drunk that are possible. Numerous individuals will enter and continue their adult lives acquainted with only one item on the following list, and will report said item occurs predictably on every occasion on which they drink. The experience of other individuals will be generally comprised of two or more, but not all items on the following list. ‘

Tired Drunk. This type of drunk occurs most commonly after a succession of busy events, for example you have had a tightly-scheduled work week or have been dealing with a number of minor inconveniences including moving, home repairs, an uncommon quantity of errands, etc.  However, there is some sort of event that has long been affixed to the calendar of your mind [or to your actual calendar, should you be the sort to maintain one] to the point where evading it is not an option, despite the fact that you feel vaguely dazed by your obligations of late. The event is likely someone’s birthday or a show to which you have purchased tickets. In the time leading up to your arrival at the event through your initial hour or two at the event you consume several drinks in the hope that you will ‘get a second wind’ or become more energetic, but as you drink you don’t feel especially good or more relaxed or more social, simply more tired, and you kind of just sit down on something while the evening seems to drift past you at a noisy remove.

Someone is highly liable to eventually ask you ‘are you tired’, doubtless curious about your half-lidded expression or disinterest in engaging. Eventually you kind of go around the room at an appropriate time to leave, being like ‘yeah, I’m just gonna get going,’ and everyone will say ‘you’re leaving?’ and you say things like ‘yeah, I’m tired,’ and feel sort of obligated to quantify why you’re tired or to enumerate all the things you have to do in the morning to each person, resulting in you listing your day’s events and tomorrow’s events multiple times to multiple people, all of whom stare at you a little blankly like they don’t actually care or like no amount of excuses could make your departure fair or logical.

Crazy Drunk. This sort of drunk requires a high quantity of beverages, generally in a short window of time, although it is important that you are not generally aware of binge-drinking or inappropriate consumption. Generally you should be in an environment of high revelry so that your indulgence feels contextually acceptable, and at the time you should feel that you are not drinking any more than anyone else in the room.  This type of drunk initially manifests itself as a sort of intense manic cheer, during which you should feel very disinterested in bar food and/or cocktail sausages, and more interested in talking to everyone about everything. You will not be aware of being as loud as everyone will tell you tomorrow that you were being. As the evening progresses it should lapse into a series of loosely-connected events that you can at any given juncture assemble into a rough logical order; you should be capable of texting and feel otherwise emotionally stable.

However, at the provocation of only a minor event, such as becoming separated from a friend, someone making a snarky comment, finding out that someone you went on one date with once is getting married, or not being able to ‘get in’ to an event that you hoped you would be able to get into, you should be unable to prevent yourself from crying. At the time you should feel very sincere about being in a state of intense emotional unrest, despite being marginally aware it is bizarre to be standing in the middle of the street with your shoes off crying to someone about how because the tickets were sold out somehow it is your fate to always be on the outside or how because one of your friends wandered away you have let everyone down and failed to fulfill your goal of togetherness for all and there is so much evil in the world and you are really upset about it or maybe it’s just your blood sugar ‘crashing’ because you didn’t eat enough today or how maybe [if female] you have your period and you’re really sorry, both for bringing it up and for making a ‘scene’.

Your friend generally tells you to calm down and that everyone will laugh about this tomorrow and you insist that you will absolutely NOT laugh about this tomorrow. You laugh about it tomorrow and feel a vague sense of ‘whoa, I felt crazy, and I didn’t even drink that much.’ You did.

Angry Drunk. This breed of intoxication occurs with no reasonable provocation, generally insinuating itself into your evening when things are otherwise progressing normally, you are doing widely-anticipated social behaviors with your customary friends at a customary location, and in most cases no one thing ‘sets you off’, as in there is no momentous event that occurs or issue that arises to make you angry or offend your sensibilities. It’s simply that some kind of concept – that you don’t like someone you know, that you feel very strongly about a political philosophy, or that a situation has become intolerable – occurs to you and you feel inclined to begin discussing how you feel in what you think is initially quite a moderate and reasonable fashion.

However, and you should maintain a peripheral awareness of this – your focus on the issue progressively escalates until you realize you are raising your voice in what you feel at the time to be perfectly justified anger. You are finally speaking your mind; you have been silent for too long, and you will begin elucidating all of your grievances until you are hysterically fucking pissed. No recipient of your information can possibly give you the correct reaction, which is to join you in a degree of justified anger that seems to match yours, and as such you will presume they are judging you, or just humoring you, or they don’t really ‘get’ where you’re coming from because they are simply nodding along and/or laughing at you in not really a mean way, just in a fashion that doesn’t appear to be weighing your righteous indignation with the correct degree of gravity.

This should make you more angry, and more motivated to try to quantify, loudly, all of your grievances, potentially even seeking new recipients, possibly strangers at the bar, who will definitely provide an objective ear to your problems when you go up to them and say things like ‘okay so tell me if I’m crazy, how would you feel if this totally shithead person, let’s call him person A, did blah blah blah’. In extreme cases you will be bothering everyone and have to leave the venue.

Solo Drunk: [SEE ‘Five Things To Do When Drinking On The Internet’]

Melancholy Drunk: After consuming several beverages, you will spend most of your time at the relevant event ensconced in conversation with a friend you may or may not be close with, listening to their problems. It will be ‘bonding time’ whether or not the event is contextually appropriate. Regardless of whether or not you were in a good mood earlier, tonight your glass clinks sadly and the din of other people’s social activity only serves to make you feel distant and more alone. You will consume perhaps more beverages than you would have normally, feeling ‘weighed’ by the discussion you had with the person you’re not actually close with, leading you to realize that you’re not actually close with this person or really anyone and what is ‘closeness’ between people, you’ll like think a lot about human boundaries or something like that, recusing yourself to a more private area of the venue as you drink and think a lot about the nature of life, other people and your existential crises.

By the time you leave to go home several people have asked if you’re okay or commented on you being quiet and with each drink you have felt progressively more seized by your personal cavalcade of emotions. You will ride home in a taxi with your forehead sidelong against the cool pane glass, watching the light of the city slip past you like souls beneath water. Sigh.

Not That Drunk (For Realsies Though). You grew up watching alcohol warning cartoons that demonstrated that drinking makes the whole world look woozy and causes pink elephants to appear. The media landscape has presented you a sitcom universe where no one is ever drunk except to comic or disastrous effect; advertisements are full of healthy individuals who take in great gusts of air through their nostrils and look like empowered consumers. Your generation believes that while charity to others is good, your highest moral obligation is self-care, and that to be a ‘good person’ is to be someone who has all of your shit together, depends on nothing and is spiritually ‘clean’, somehow. But you undergo a peculiar something when you go out and you don’t get that drunk, like let’s say you were just having some drinks with a professional colleague or you went to an event where alcohol was being served incidentally but it wasn’t culturally appropriate to imbibe.

So you had, like, one or two, which is enough to make you contemplative but not enough to wrap you thoughtlessly in a tide of universal revelry, the sort that you see when you’re walking home from the train. And suddenly you feel very young again, because everywhere you look all the adults are drinking. You walk past a row of bars and everyone is standing outside being obnoxious and loud. Someone is asleep on a bench. It is 10PM and it is a weeknight and from all around you the awareness that everyone drinks sort of presses on you like a dissociative cloud, and you are only capable of perceiving it because normally you would be participating and tonight you’re pretty much not.

And you think a lot about those falsehoods of spiritual cleanliness that the media raised you with, and that your parents raised you with, and it occurs to you that in fact you live in a world with which most people prefer not to cope. You think a lot about how wine celebrations play key roles in the Bible and ancient Greco-Roman myth, and you wonder about what it is to be human and the buffer zones that everyone needs and blah blah blah. It seems weird, that everyone you look at seems not to be entirely there or entirely themselves and you know they don’t notice it, because you do the same thing. Seems really weird. It seems sad. Oh, well, you think. TC mark

image – Landii


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  • Charles Reinhardt

    Considering that this is a list-y post, it has some really nice lyrical turns. Nice one, Leigh!

    • Leigh Alexander

      thanks bro!

  • Tera Kristen

    I try so, so hard not to think “Oh well”. I don’t want to be a high-functioning alcoholic even though it’s socially acceptable. I live in my own bubble and I can’t depend on the ever-changing societal norms to make me feel better about myself. When I’m all alone and very still I can feel it – drinking is a fucking waste of life. Bars are a waste of money and spending your weekend in bars is a waste of time. Anyone who doesn’t think so is falling victim to the addictive properties of alcohol. 

    Please don’t think I’m preaching here because I’ve been every single one of those types of drunk over and over – I speak from my experiences. Alcohol ruins your brain – the single most important thing ever. I can’t think “Oh well”.

    • B.Z.

      Well, yeah Tera, that’s true – I think the article is meant to be taken a little tongue in cheek. Either that or a cry for help, LOL.

      • Tera Kristen

        I get that the article is probably meant to be a bit lighter than the way that I reacted to it (maybe the scary use of the personal pronoun ‘you’ threw me off) . It’s just that I feel so strongly that alcohol will ruin my life, it is my personal destroyer, and yet everyone is doing it. Do they have a secret? Can they be an angry drunk and still feel good about themselves the next day? 

        Maybe I should just be happy that I can realize my personal issues with alcohol – and not feel like a stigmatized outlier for not drinking with the rest of society. Maybe the next time I’m thinking that I’m really weird for not being able to control my alcohol and needing to abstain completely is when I think “Oh well”.

        Sorry for killing the buzz – it’s just that this site (and these comments) are a form of therapy – you people really get me :)


    OH the tangential did this one too 

    • Leigh Alexander

      it’s kind of hard to have an original idea on the internet… damn…
      i never read this one, but looking at it now it seems it would describe the drunk individuals, whereas i describe conditions one can experience

  • Zeolite Fuhrman

    The Covert Tragedy Drunk (Melancholy Drunk enveloping the Crazy):

    You drink straight gin, because it’s hard, and you’re really fucking serious and sad and torn up and resilient to the fact that so-and-so is ignoring you after all of your morose eye contact, and is on the dance floor, and you are out here, so you buy another fucking gin and take it somberly into a bathroom stall where you place it on the toilet paper dispenser and blithely ponder how fucking serious you are when everyone is outside having fun and no one notices, ever, and you are always doing this, why does it always happen to you. You refuse to cry but fiercely allow a tear or two, finish your gin and lean against the wall with your eyes closed for an indefinite amount of time. You re-emerge from the bathroom and make dead eye contact with whoever it is and walk pointedly out of the bar to sulk with a ponderous expression on your face, implying that you are preoccupied with thoughts deeper than the current social circumstances. #darktimes

  • Stephanie Georgopulos

    “You will ride home in a taxi with your forehead sidelong against the
    cool pane glass, watching the light of the city slip past you like
    souls beneath water. Sigh.”

    LOL. This. Every weekend.

  • Briana


    also: you forgot one important part of the tired drunk, which is that it’s so difficult to be. if you shut your eyes for a nap, you overhear people saying: “is _____ okay? did she pass out?” and then people try to wake you up, concerned that you have OD’d on booze.

    • Leigh Alexander

      i didn’t want the twitter followers to get too excited
      you should like write it here in the comments like the dude below us added one

  • burgy


  • Michael Koh

    so love this

  • Gilthwixt

    What happens if you’re kind of a Crazy Drunk, but so is everyone you’re drinking with? Can there be no healthy state between Not Drunk and Crazy Happy Drunk on the Verge of Crying, or am I really that crazy to believe that a self-depreciating, quiet nerd who is typically melancholy while sober can truly come out of his shell and be a warm, funny and daring guy after several (but not too many) beers?

    Regardless, this is just another of one of your many well written pieces Leigh, and I look forward to reading more.

  • Anonymous

    Friday = tired drunk
    Saturday = crazy drunk
    Sunday = melancholy drunk
    Monday = angry drunk

  • your cousin

    Alcohol myopia = booze makes you focus on one thing, be it that you just got promoted, you just got dumped, or you just got behind the wheel and need to make it home without getting pulled over. If the thing you’re focusing on is that you just got dumped, you won’t be able to concentrate on driving.

  • NT

    The second paragraph made me really need/want to hiccup…

  • Alex Thayer

    this one kinda punched me in the chest.

    also, i’m listening to marissa nadler.

    • Leigh Alexander

      i went to summer overnight camp with her in i think 7th grade, we were friends
      i’m sure she doesnt remember

      • Alex Thayer

        this is an absolutely incredible coincidence

  • Mr Shankly

    I’m always the tired drunk, even though I’m never tired. It’s why I don’t drink. Drinking until you ensconce yourself in your own head, watching all the little social butterflies flutter about talking and taking pictures and enjoying themselves. So nauseating you have to leave, alone, and go home, avoiding looking directly at anyone, pretending not to be wary of cars going suspiciously slow past you, so you run.

    Every time. I need a blunt.

  • Anonymous

    Right now I am the melancholy drunk. Though let it be known that I tried really hard not to be. Which almost makes it sadder. Goddammit. 


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