mwchase wrote:This has me wondering something. How do people actually manage to get drunk? I always skip straight to the hangover, if I'm reading the symptoms right. I'm not saying I get rapidly blackout drunk, it's not that kind of "skip". I'm saying I've only ever felt lightly buzzed (from a small sip, to combat writer's block), or agonizingly hung over in the middle of the night (from one drink).
I'm neither a doctor not a biochemist, but you may have a genetic configuration that makes you process alcohol differently to your peers. After a wiki walk I'm not completely clear on it, but there appears to be a Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) that causes alcohols to be metabolised into aldehydes orders of magnitude more quickly, making it difficult to experience the pleasant effects of intoxication. There's also apparently a second genetic factor that makes processing of the aldehyde slower. The aldehyde (amongst other things) causes the hangover, so if you have both genes, you get a worse morning after, sooner, with a shorter night before. Both factors are more common in east Asia, but could potentially crop up in other populations (obviously I know nothing of your ancestry!). A smoking gun would be if you get the alcohol flush reaction.
The way you describe this sounds rather familiar to me. Throughout my childhood I thought apples, peaches, plums and many fruits were OK, but I wondered how people put up with the itchy throat, inflammation of the eyes and lips that they caused. I was into my twenties before I realised that those things simply didn't happen to other people. Turns out it's an allergy linked to my early spring hay fever caused by tree pollen. In hindsight it's obvious, but there's an element of groupthink or that psychological effect where the subject agrees with the stooges despite the evidence of his/her own senses. Your "how do people manage to get drunk" reflects this feeling that you're doing something wrong. Relax, it's probably just not for you!