Tori has experience with problem drinking and is here to share her tips and advice for those struggling with alcohol issues.
How to Apologize for Being a Drunk Mess
Many of us have been through it—you go out with friends for a few drinks, and the next thing you know, you're waking up with an aching head and little to no recollection of what happened or who you may have texted, offended, hooked up with, or worse.
I decided to write this article after an "incident" last night via Facebook that involved drinking.
Here's what happened:
It's around 11 p.m., and I'm lying in bed when my phone goes off—it's a Facebook message from a male friend I hadn't talked to since I was a teenager. The message was pretty "graphic" in its content, and I could tell that my old friend was drunk.
I asked if he was okay or if he needed me to find him a ride. He said he was at home, then continued with the same obnoxious content.
I put my phone on silent and went back to sleep. When I awoke at 7:30 a.m. to get ready for work, I had an inbox full of more drunken messages. A few hours later, I got another message—a lengthy apology.
Truthfully, I wasn't even upset; I was more concerned than anything. The sexual content of the messages was obnoxious, but I know this person would never, ever have acted like that if sober (or even moderately intoxicated).
So, here are a few pointers from someone who has been on both sides of this situation, as well as some resources to consider if you think you might have a drinking problem.
Evaluate How Bad the "Damage" Is
Providing you can recall what you did by re-reading messages, posts, emails, texts, etc., evaluate how "bad" the damage is. While assessing the damage, consider the following:
1. Determine if You Have Anything to Be Embarrassed About
Were you at a party where everyone was drinking? If so, you may have a case of "drinkers remorse," yet everyone else was drinking too, so your actions could be "all in your head." Nobody probably remembers your "bad dancing" besides you. If you're embarrassed that you spilled a drink or got ill . . . once again, everyone was drinking.
2. Find Out if You Need to Apologize to Anyone
If you were "confrontational" with someone, is this person aware you were drinking? If so, provided you didn't kill their dog or throw their couch into their pool, all that's likely required is an apology. It's not the end of the world. I have even gotten into all-out physical brawls with my best friends while drinking, and we are still friends.
In one case, I refused to let my friend drive when he was drunk, and I tackled him. While attempting to "detain him" on the floor and remove his car keys, I ended up ripping open his neck with my fingernails. We both felt horrible about it the next day, but he was thankful I did not let him drive, and I was thankful he was safe.
3. Remember That Everyone Has "Been There"
I guarantee you are not the first person to feel like an idiot over your actions. Almost everyone (besides maybe Mother Theresa) has been intoxicated and done something (or lots of things) that they feel ashamed of. And anyone who won't admit to having at least one action they regretted is a liar.
So, with all that in mind, let's do "damage control." Here, we'll discuss these problematic situations you may have found yourself in related to drinking issues:
- I sent awful drunken texts and/or photos.
- I was drunk driving, got a DUI, or was arrested.
- I cheated or had an affair.
- I posted embarrassing things online.
- I have no clue what I did.
I Sent Awful Drunken Texts and/or Photos
If you're feeling bad about texts or photos, first think about who you sent them to. If it is someone who loves you, an apology should be fine. Even if what you sent was really, really mean or graphic. Just explain you drank more than you should have and tell them the messages you sent are not how you feel. If you have to admit to being so drunk you don't even remember sending the messages, then do so!
There's nothing wrong with telling the truth. I would much rather have a good friend who sent me an explicit message admit that they were blacked out than simply say they were drinking because there's a big difference.
If someone is blacked out and has no recollection of the message(s), then I know they were not in control of their actions at that time. On the other hand, if someone just says they were drinking, I have to wonder if the message(s) reflect their real feelings and if they have been acting fake toward me.
Tips for Apologizing for Drunk Texting
- Wait until you've sobered up to apologize.
- Take responsibility for your actions. Don't blame it on the alcohol.
- Joke around about the situation if the texts were pretty lighthearted and innocent.
- Be honest and tell them you were drinking (or blacked out).
- Apologize if you kept them awake or made them worry about you.
- Be understanding if they're not willing to forgive you right away.
I Was Drunk Driving, Got a DUI, or Was Arrested
Yeah, it really sucks. I got a DUI sometime around 2002, and it was embarrassing and horrible. But I got through it. Your license will be temporarily suspended; and you'll have a court date, owe some fines, need to take some classes, and have some community service. You may have to tell your employer, friends, or family.
Depending on where you live and your BAC (blood alcohol content) at the time of your arrest, you may need to have an IID (ignition interlock device) installed in your car for a certain period of time, and you may need to take specific steps with the DMV to get your license reinstated.
One thing you can do is go to court and ask the judge to grant lenience for you to drive to and from work (or wherever you absolutely MUST go). It helps if you can show evidence that you are a great person who made a huge mistake. Get your friends, employer, or family to write letters or appear in court with you to "stand up" on your behalf and vouch for you being an asset to the community, despite your bad judgment at the time of the arrest.
Drunk driving is an incredibly dangerous and irresponsible activity that is responsible for more than 11,000 deaths in the U.S. each year and about 30% of all traffic accidents. It's among the risky behaviors that are strong indicators of an alcohol use disorder. If you ever find yourself in a position where you want to drive while drunk, please take steps to ensure you do not engage in this dangerous and illegal behavior, such as:
- Making a plan to have a sober designated driver when you go out drinking.
- Calling a friend, taxi, Uber, or Lyft if you've had too much to drink.
- Letting a friend take your keys if you've had too much to drink.
If you get arrested, it's not the end of the world, and hopefully, it'll convince you to be more cautious in the future and address your drinking. As I mentioned, there are strict penalties in place to deter drunk drivers who get caught from partaking in that dangerous activity again. The bottom line here is if you were arrested or got a DUI, you just have to get through it . . . and you will. Stay strong.
I Cheated or Had an Affair
This is probably the worst offense of drinking, but once again, evaluate the situation. Was the "cheating" a kiss, or was it much more?
Chances are, you are probably reading this with your pounding headache from last night. First things first—before you do anything, you need to be clear-headed, so sleep it off or do whatever is needed to recover so you can think things through.
Next: Do you genuinely know how "far" things went? For example, my girlfriend once woke up next to someone but had no idea what had happened the previous evening. It's plenty possible both people fell asleep. If you woke up fully clothed, the chances are likely in your favor that you simply "passed out."
If you know you went "all the way," you must consider all of the following:
- Is it possible you could be pregnant? If so, immediately go and purchase a Plan B pill from your local drugstore. Do not waste time! Providing you are sober enough to drive, go right away.
- Could you have an STD? If so, cease having further relations until you know, and get tested right away.
- Moving forward with your relationship—should you admit to what happened? This is up to you and the state of your relationship. If you are completely miserable, then instead of destroying the individual with the news of your affair, consider ending your relationship and sparing them the pain instead.
If your cheating was a simple kiss, it is possible that your partner will be able to forgive you, but you may have to re-earn their trust. Nonetheless, if you plan to share the details of the affair with your partner, be ready for everything that goes along with it—rage, depression, etc. So before you jump into details, first recover from your hangover.
How to Tell Your Partner You Cheated
If you decide to tell your partner you were unfaithful, which you should do if you want to move forward with the relationship, here's how:
- Wait until you've sobered up to approach them about the situation.
- Make sure you have the conversation with them in a private, appropriate location.
- Be completely honest with them, both about how much alcohol you consumed (but don't make excuses) and the extent of the physical contact with the other person.
- Be prepared for their reaction. Depending on the extent of the infidelity, your partner may be incredibly upset or want to end the relationship.
- Accept their emotions and decision on what to do moving forward.
- If the relationship can be salvaged, be willing to put in the work to repair your damaged relationship. Rebuilding trust can be extremely challenging and will be even harder if you continue the problematic behavior that led to cheating in the first place. Take accountability for your actions, and make a real effort to be an honest and trustworthy partner.
I Posted Embarrassing Things Online
It's easy to say, "Don't use your phone when drunk" now, but that doesn't change what you already posted.
Obviously, immediately delete the post(s).
If the posts were to someone else, send them a message (privately, if possible) saying you're sorry.
As long as you delete the posts and didn't say anything harmful or offensive to anyone, you're probably in the clear.
I Have No Clue What I Did
If you don't know, start by talking to, texting, or messaging one of the people you were with. Say something like, "OMG—I am so hungover today! How do you feel?"
You may be surprised to find out that your friend feels the same way and also has no idea what happened.
Or, your friend may say something like, "Yeah, you were really messed up." If that's the case, you should let them know you don't remember what happened after (insert last memory). Now you and your friend are on the same page, and they can fill you in on the details.
Is Blacking Out While Drinking Normal?
Blacking out often occurs when you are binge drinking or drinking a lot on an empty stomach. When you're blacked out, your decision-making abilities are severely reduced, and you're more likely to engage in risky behavior.
Unfortunately, when you're blacked out, you're still walking and talking, so you and those around you will likely have no idea that you're blacked out. People can assume you're okay to drink more alcohol or engage in sexual activity when, in fact, you will have no recollection of those activities the next day.
Regular blacking out can have serious health consequences and affect your brain's ability to function, as well as your memory and even your personality. Even blacking out just once can be incredibly dangerous since you are more susceptible to injury and may even choke and asphyxiate on your own vomit.
If you're experiencing blackouts, you need to seriously consider whether you have a healthy relationship with alcohol. Drinking is more fun when you're able to remember the good times, and it can be downright dangerous when you wake up in a strange location with strange people and no recollection of what happened last night.
Do You Have a Drinking Problem?
If you are having repeated issues with alcohol beyond sending a few embarrassing texts here and there, you may have a problem with alcohol. Here are some warning signs of alcohol use problems.
Signs You Have a Problem With Alcohol
- Your tolerance has gone up.
- You spend a lot of time drinking or thinking about drinking and have reduced your involvement in other activities you used to enjoy that don't involve drinking.
- You often drink more than you intend to.
- Your drinking has caused problems with your friends and family or at work or school.
- You find yourself lying to others about your alcohol use or downplaying how much you're drinking.
- You engage in risky behavior when drinking, such as drunk driving or unprotected sex.
- You've been arrested or otherwise gotten into legal trouble due to your drinking.
- You've experienced memory loss and/or withdrawal symptoms from drinking.
- You want to stop or cut back on your drinking but have not been able to do so.
What to Do if You Have a Drinking Problem
There are many options available if you have a problem with alcohol, from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to inpatient rehab programs. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or community member if you think you might have a problem with alcohol. Take this brief assessment from AA if you're not sure whether you have a drinking problem.
However, although AA, rehab, etc., are options, they may not be practical for you. For example, if you will lose your job over asking for three weeks off to detox, you might need to find a more realistic option. I have a suggestion that can be a real eye-opener—although this won't "take back" whatever happened last night, it genuinely may change all of your future choices:
Record yourself drunk.
Yes, seriously. Don't ask a friend to do it on their phone, or if you do need a friend to record it, make sure they use your phone.
Seeing yourself in an "awful state" will likely shock you. Truthfully, things may not be as bad as you think . . . or things may be so bad that you decide, without the need for rehab/AA, that you aren't going to get to that level of intoxication again.
Just make sure that after you record yourself, you put your phone down and do not upload the video. Although it may seem funny and awesome at the time . . . wait until the next day, then watch it.
Additional Tips for Avoiding Future Problems
- If you don't genuinely need your cell phone, leave it at home. For example, if you're planning to go to the bar with a friend who is driving and also has a phone (and you are the person that is a "drunk message repeat offender"), just announce, while sober, "My phone is about to die. I'm headed out for the night; talk to you tomorrow."
- Switch your drink. If you usually drink whiskey shots at the bar, switch it up and get beer instead.
- Let people know when you feel tipsy. Ask your friends to cut you off when you start getting a buzz.
Resources for Alcohol Issues
- Treatment for Alcohol Problems: Finding and Getting Help | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and A
This guide is written for individuals, and their family and friends, who are looking for options to address alcohol problems. It is intended as a resource to understand what treatment choices are available and what to consider when selecting among th
- Alcoholism Resources and Support Groups - Alcohol Rehab Guide
Explore the many resources available for people who struggling to overcome alcoholism and for family and friends who are trying to help them.
- Alcohol Recovery Resources - Family First Intervention
Browse these alcohol recovery resources to learn your options for immediate and ongoing alcohol addiction help.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.