Haven't you ever wondered why when you have three drinks at a bar you feel as sober as the chaperon of a middle school dance, but when you have three drinks at an office party you find yourself, out of nowhere, suddenly drunk enough to start explaining your thoughts on ass-play to your coworkers?
Don't worry, it's not just you. It turns out science has an answer for your behavior.
Office parties turn beer into meth, and liquor into bath salts.
That's right, science has now explained why one time (at an office Christmas party) I decided to inform the CEO of the company I used to work for that one in three CEOs have been proven to show sociopathic tendencies.
That's not a joke. That's real life and really happened. After three drinks, I thought that informing the CEO of a giant, multinational corporation that he's probably a sociopath was a good idea.
Mercifully, I now know it wasn't entirely my fault.
Studies have been performed that prove people not only develop a physical tolerance to alcohol, but also a psychological tolerance.
And it's all related to how familiar you are with the environment you are drinking in.
What that means is, if you are in a place you normally drink -- a bar, a restaurant, the bathroom at Chuck E. Cheese's -- then you will drink a couple of beers and feel almost nothing. If, however, you have a couple of drinks in a place you never drink -- like the changing room of a Forever 21 or beside your grandmother's deathbed -- then you will feel like you just did a keg stand.
Basically, in familiar places our brains prepare themselves for the effects of alcohol, and therefore become less affected by it.
One test at the University of Birmingham in England had 24 subjects drink alcohol on three occasions in the same environment in order to build up their environmental tolerance to that location.
Then the researchers had the same subjects drink in a new, unfamiliar environment, and they compared their cognitive abilities in both locations.
The subjects' tolerance was TWICE as good in the familiar environment as the unfamiliar one.
Meaning, if you usually drink around around five beers at a bar and you decide to drink that same amount at, let's say, a children's birthday party, you will feel and behave (according to science) like you have just had 10 beers (and end up convincing all the kids to fist fight each other).
For a visual aid, please refer to this image.
The exceptionally weird thing here is that the effects of your psychological tolerance may have a very real physical effect.
This experiment was also done on laboratory animals (with heroin instead of alcohol), and when the mice were injected in an environment they'd never been administered the drug before, they were far more likely to overdose.
Scientists think it's because the body physically prepares itself for the chemical effects of drugs and alcohol in the brain when it is in environments where it has experienced these things before.
And when you are in an environment where you have never had alcohol (or heroin) the body is essentially getting ambushed with its pants down -- which, ironically, could also then lead you to literally get caught with your pants down.