Alcohol and Emetophobia: Can Emetophobics Join the Party?

alcoholA cold beer or sparkling glass of wine may sound divine to some emetophobics. For others, the very thought of even touching an alcoholic drink may send them scurrying as far away from the bar as possible. 

Whether or not alcoholic drinks can mingle safely with your emetophobia depends on how you and your body react to alcohol, and each person reacts differently. While one emetophobic loudly proclaims that “emetophobia and bars just don’t mix,” others have had no issues with drinking in moderation.

Another thing to consider is alcohol’s overall effect on anxiety and vomit fears. Even though alcohol is often used to unwind, calm down or even alleviate anxiety, it is actually a depressant that can exacerbate anxiety and, in turn, your emetophobia symptoms.

‘Emetophobia and Bars Just Don’t Mix’

Emetophobic Robin Neorr, a writer with the Yahoo! Contributor Network, says she has found emetophobia and bars don’t mix and she goes the route of not drinking at all. Factors that led to her personal conclusion include getting very, very sick on alcohol in the past and annoyance at the “emet” (as she calls it) always being pegged as the designated driver.

She includes constantly living in a state of anxiety from just entering the bar scene. As she succinctly puts it:

People + alcohol = vomit”

Other factors that keep her out of bars include:

  • Knowing someone will drink too much
  • Knowing she has no control when that will happen or what they will do about it
  • Taking on the designated driving role while fearing a passenger will ask to pull over
  • The fear that she will drink too much and get sick
  • Constant thoughts of how much other people are drinking
  • Hovering over friends who are drinking to make sure they don’t drink too much
  • Pent-up anxiety over the whole scene that detracts or kills off any fun that may be had  

That lineup of factors may serve to keep many folks out of bars, period, regardless if they’re suffering from emetophobia or not. While avoiding alcohol altogether works best for Neorr, other emetophobics have found ways to drink safely with the least likelihood of vomiting.

Drinking Tips for Emetophobics

Knowing what your body can handle is part of the equation, and a host of other tips come from other emetophobics who posted their suggestions on online forums. Perhaps not coincidentally, many of their tips coincide with tips for safe and moderate drinking from Mayo Clinic and the University of Indiana.

Limit your drinks

Having one or two drinks over an extended period works for one emetophobic, who noted, “…that gets me to that really fun tipsy feeling but never the ‘…I’m really drunk’ feeling.” Mayo Clinic also advocates drinking in moderation, which equates to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

One drink is equal to: 

  • 12 oz of beer
  • 5 oz of wine
  • 1.5 oz of hard liquor of 80 proof or less 

Eat Before Imbibing

A hearty meal prior to imbibing is always a good idea as alcohol can zoom into your bloodstream on an empty stomach. Indiana University suggests high-protein foods, such as peanuts or cheese, which can slow the alcohol absorption even further.

Keep the Water Flowing 

Water keeps you hydrated from alcohol’s potentially dehydrating effects. It also helps keep your system up to par for properly processing and flushing the alcohol out of your system. Drinking plenty of water with alcoholic drinks helps one emetophobic, as does drinking another big glass of water right before bed.

Refrain from Mixing Alcohol 

Mixing different types or even flavors of alcohol can be a total recipe for disaster, one emetophobic notes. That means no beer with wine, no cherry liquor with crème de menthe and no red wine with white wine.

Pay Attention to How Your Stomach Reacts 

One emetophobic steers clear of wine altogether when at a party, knowing that it doesn’t sit well. Beer, on the other hand, provides carbonation that helps the person burp and feel better. Super-sweet drinks and beverages are also on the taboo list due to their penchant for making “my stomach unhappy.”

Your own body will have its own personal reaction to the type of alcohol beverage you encounter. Sip slowly so you have time to stop if you notice a bad reaction.

Beware of Unfamiliar Drinks 

Indiana University chimes in with this tip, noting that certain mixed drinks can be packed with loads of alcohol you may barely be able to taste over the flurry of fruity ingredients. You also want to beware of who is handing you the drink and never set your own drink down during a party. Picking up a drink that is spiked with other substances is always a possibility, as is accidentally picking up someone else’s drink.

When Drinking and Emetophobia NEVER Mix

One more danger zone is drinking alcohol when you’re taking certain types of medication. If you are taking anti-anxiety or other prescription drugs, always check with your doctor and double-check the label to find out if they are safe to use with alcohol.

Alcohol can heighten the effects of some drugs, and vice versa, and you could end up pretty bad off if you imbibe in a not-so-healthy combination.

Binge drinking can also be a not-so-healthy practice for emetophobics or anyone. Binge drinking involves drinking several drinks quite rapidly, such as four or five drinks over a few hours. Such rapid and high-volume drinking can hit you hard, quickly making you drunk or, worse yet, quickly making you sick.

Common sense and knowing what does and does not work for you are the keys to drinking safety with emetophobia. And there is certainly nothing wrong with choosing not to drink at all.


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