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Is Alcohol Really a Type of “Truth Serum?” 

We’ve all experienced those times when a friend divulges too much information after one too many drinks, or perhaps you overshare. Even one glass of wine, beer or another alcoholic beverage might lead some to talk more than usual. But are the words coming out necessarily the truth? Science sheds light on why some people may talk so much when intoxicated, as well as whether people are indeed more honest when drunk.

Why Do People Talk So Much When They’re Drunk? 

If you’ve ever wondered if people are more honest when they’re drunk, the answer is nuanced. While alcohol may encourage an individual to express a long-repressed sorrow or grievance that is real and runs deep, it can also cause others to lie. Overall, alcohol does cause some people to be more open when drunk, but that doesn’t necessarily mean what they talk about is true. 

The reason for these uninhibited utterances is the way alcohol affects the brain. Along with causing lowered inhibitions and motor control loss, alcohol can impair an individual’s evaluative cognitive control. In other words, neurotransmitters in the brain slow down and even stop when a person becomes inebriated. 

One of the reasons people may talk more when drunk is a reduction in negative affect or emotions related to specific behaviors, stress or other adverse effects. A person with inhibited negative affect often says things without associating them with positive or negative consequences. 

So, Do Drunk People Lie? 

Alcohol overloads working memory, impairs judgment, causes primary inhibitory impairment surrounding social situations and affects social rationalization or the ability to tell whether something is socially acceptable. So, with lowered inhibitions and social rationalization, an individual may say what’s on their mind without filters — some deeply personal information may be true, while other boisterous comments, a lie. 

Context can help determine whether drunks mean what they say. For example, heartfelt emotions are often genuine because people lack the rationalization skills to be devious and contriving. On the other hand, negative comments or anger may be a defense mechanism and not necessarily stem from truth. This is because a drunk brain may use anything it can to defend against perceived attackers — and this includes lying. Intoxicated individuals are more likely to respond emotionally in social situations due to inhibited emotional processing.

Get Help Today

If you or a loved one want to quit drinking or cut down to healthier levels, know there’s help. For over 50 years, Gateway Foundation has helped people of all ages break free from the painful hold of addiction. We offer a continuum of care that tracks success over time and evidence-based treatments aimed at helping patients understand and modify their behaviors. 

Don’t try to deal with alcohol abuse or its effects on your own — contact us to learn more about our life-saving addiction treatment. 

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