Does being drunk make you uninhibited? | alcohol, authenticity and primal instinct


Quick summary: Alcohol comes up quite a bit in counseling as most people who have drunk until intoxication have a story about how a drunken occurrence impacted a relationship. Clients have noticed that there is somewhat of a correlation between being drunk and having affairs… the question then naturally arises, “Does being drunk make you uninhibited?…  Upon clarification they might say, “Does being drunk give people the freedom to engage in behaviors that their authentic self has always wanted to engage in?” When asked this question point blank I answered, “I don’t think so, it seems to me that being drunk simply makes people more primal… they become less inhibited and arguably less moral, ethical and logical in attaining their most basic bodily needs. Basically, being drunk generally encourages people to procreate with less selectivity… to ruthlessly obtain and eat high calorie foods… to aggressively assert dominance over what they would define as territory…to urinate without regards to social norms… and to sleep in less than ideal settings.”

My intention is not to pass judgment on the behavior of indulging alcohol until you are drunk… instead I am offering commentary on the relationship between inhibition and drunkenness.

My opinion is that people’s authentic selves generally have both needs and goals which are more complicated than the basic needs of their mammalian body.

To answer the question concerning becoming uninhibited you would first need to decide what it is that is being inhibited.

I believe that Humans have needs of the mind, needs of the body, and needs of the spirit.

  • The mind wants meaning, purpose, solutions, knowledge, relationships and certainty…


  • The body wants food, reproduction, shelter, and proper or necessary bodily function (breathing, urinating etc).


  • The spirit wants to exist and perhaps to observe the interconnection of all things… I am not wise enough to state with any certainty of the desires of the human spirit, but I know that my spirit craves things like compassion, kindness and balance…


I would suggest that Human’s very much inhibit the needs of their body so as to meets the needs of their spirit and their mind (and visa versa at times too).

  • The body does not tend to over-concern itself with morals, ethics, future plans, empathy etc… as such, if we did not ‘inhibit’ the body there would be quite a bit of social disruption (we would likely behave similar to an untrained dog).
  • The body benefits from being inhibited… bodies tend to function more optimally when influenced by the needs of the mind. (It is better for the body to make conscious food decision, to not pee where you sleep, to not have intercourse in situations in which you are very likely to contract a STD etc).


So in answer to the question, “does the fact that my partner cheated on me while he/she was drunk mean that having affairs is what he/she truly wants in life?”

  • I would suggest that it is perhaps what his/her body wants, but it is not necessarily what his/her mind and spirit wants. (Keep in mind that the body does not want to wait until a restroom is present to urinate.)


Authentic Self – the self that you believe yourself to truly be… sometimes we don’t always present our authentic self… Our authentic self is not always the you that society tells you that you should be… it is the you that you intuitively know yourself to be….

  • Who are you?


  • What are the Characteristics of your most Authentic self?


  • Who are you when you are drunk?


  • Is the drunk you the authentic you… is the drunk you better able to get the needs met of your mind, body and spirit?


  • Is there a part of you (your mind, body or spirit) that feels uncomfortably inhibited?


I will admit that I dramatically oversimplified this issue

The truth is that very often the mind inhibits the spirit.

I had an excellent professor Named Fred Hanna in graduate school who made a very good point about the relationships between spiritual needs and intoxication.

  • His intention was to help his students to build empathy for people with substance abuse disorders by explaining the good intentions which are often behind destructive behaviors. (If a therapist cannot be empathetic… it is unlikely that they will be very helpful… passing judgment on a person rarely encourages positive change).


  • Often people feel very spiritually connected to life when their mind will stop ruminating and projecting classifications and judgments onto all of a person’s sensory receptions.


  • People (and many animals believe it or not) intoxicate themselves as they do not know of a better way to calm the anxieties and judgments of their minds so as to feel in tune with their spirituality… or to be in tune with the moment.


Unfortunately the spiritual sensation that comes with intoxication generally is short lived, has unwanted consequences, and demands an external influence in the discovery of spirituality.


To function in our current fast-paced society we as a culture have demanded that the mind become overly active… many of us think too much.

  • In my opinion, before we can reasonably expect for substance use to go down in this country we will need to look at how to find a better balance.
  • I am suggesting that our need for intoxication might be related to the fact that we intentionally and unintentionally perpetuate an overuse of the mind.
  • It is common for people to talk about societies use of alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco… sleeping pills, pain pills, anxiety pills etc are all often used for the same reasons… we have learned how to turn up our minds and rev the engine, but many were never told how to turn the mind off.


So I will close with this simple answer… Yes, alcohol can make you uninhibited, but generally the needs and wants of your most authentic self are not met while intoxicated.


Inhibition is permission for another part of you to function.


Want to get your brain to rest? Focus on the breath… and practice with the same dedication that you allow for external relaxants. Easier said than done… but there are few if any consequences to trying…

William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.
William Hambleton Bishop
William Hambleton Bishop is a practicing therapist in Steamboat Springs Colorado.

One thought on “Does being drunk make you uninhibited? | alcohol, authenticity and primal instinct

  1. Interesting view points, many of which are valid. Especially the desires of the spirit body and mind. Being aware of the yearning each sector has enables a better understanding to better equip ourselves and function accordingly or adjust accordingly. Great read.

Leave a Reply