SOLO 114 Brandon | Alcohol


If you are a frequent listener of Solo, you know that Peter McGraw doubts that an alcohol-fueled life can be especially remarkable. He believes that less drinking (or not drinking at all) is superior to being a frequent drinker. To explore this topic, he invites Brandon Patrick and Christina Martinez into the solo studio. Sadly, they had a technical problem and lost some content, which explains the sudden close to the episode. Nonetheless, the conversation is a good starting point for a commonly-accepted but often challenging habit.

Listen to Episode #114 here



If you frequent this show, you know that I have doubts that an alcohol-fueled life can be especially remarkable. I believe that less drinking or not drinking at all is superior to being a frequent drinker. If you do drink, I urge you to make drinking rare and special rather than regular and mundane. For context, the ideal amount of alcohol for me is 0 to 2 drinks in a week. To explore this important topic, I invite Brandon Patrick, a stand-up comedian and Christina Martinez, a frequent contributor to the show, into the Solo Studio to discuss alcohol.

Sadly, we had a technical problem and lost some content, which explains the sudden close to the episode. My apologies. This hurts me more than it will hurt you. Lastly, upon reflection, this is a rather light treatment of what can be a profoundly damaging addiction. Thus, if you suspect that you have a problem, I have included some resources for you to look at. If you do not have someone to talk to, please reach out to me. I will do my best to assist you. I hope you enjoy this episode. Let’s get started.

Welcome, Brandon. Welcome back, Christina. The topic of alcohol comes up in a surprising anonymous podcast. It comes up a lot because of me. I bring it up a lot. I have made some major changes to my consumption of alcohol in the last few years. I have done so to live a healthier and more remarkable life, but it bears further discussion. It is so much part of our cultural fabric and dating culture. Half of the American singles are dating. It is very difficult to escape. For some people, it is hard to navigate. Let’s start by talking a little bit about your experience with alcohol. Who wants to go first?

I will throw it in. I started drinking at sixteen in high school. I grew up in the Midwest. It was the thing to do. There is not a lot going on in Norman, Oklahoma for a sixteen-year-old kid to get excited about. I was in a jazz band. That was fun but I was outperforming all my peers.

Were you drinking cognac?

I wish. I’m so ashamed. UV Blue was my go-to. It is raspberry vodka that tastes like sugar.

The funny thing was when he said it, I was like, “I can see that with you.”

I used to go to 7-Eleven. We would get a Big Gulp, which was 32 ounces. We put half Sprite in there and half UV Blue, and go through the day like that. That would get me through marching band practice, which is at 7:00.

You were drinking while you were doing “important things.”

In high school, I was drinking pretty much every day.

You would bring the Big Gulp to school with you.

Kids started getting busted for it, but because I worked in the office, I knew who they were on to. I was able to get the sin off of me like, “Do you think I would drink? I’m so responsible.” I seem like I had it together.

It sounds like you did have it together otherwise.

That’s enough to be conniving about it.

In junior year, I was on top of the game. In senior year, I was falling apart but I was also almost out the door. They were like, “This is not a problem worth investigating.” Every single day in English class, which was my first period, me and this dude Andrew used to be like, “We would like to get everyone in the class some donuts. Is it cool if we go leave and get everyone donuts?” The teacher would begrudgingly be like, “Yeah, just make sure you come back.” We would never come back or if we ever came back, it was not with donuts. We would have some fantastic excuses.

Where does Oklahoma rank in terms of educational efficiency in the United States?

It is at 46. We are down there and I’m the reason for it.

You were a mild degenerate at 16 to 18. What happened?

When I got to college, the first thing I did was seek out the party houses near campus. I partied at all of them and joined a fraternity immediately. I was like, “I’m going to be a party legend.” As far as Edmond, Oklahoma is concerned, I was the guy. I was at every party. If it was fun and illegal, I had my hand in it. It was what I did and who I was.

It is no surprise you have grown to be a comic. You were partying. That is not out of the ordinary for a college kid and also for an Oklahoma Midwestern thing. Where are you now? What’s your relationship with alcohol?

I haven’t drunk in two and a half years. One stand-up became a full-time job. It also became a full-time job managing the lore of who I am and that cult of personality because people started coming out to see just you instead of going out to see just a show. They are coming out to see me and they are like, “I heard that you partied, so let’s party. Prove that you are what you say you are.” It is like, “Now I have to go out and outdrink this couple that I would never hang out with in a million years just to show them that I am this thing that I have created.” It then became like, “What if I created a different mythology?”

Was there a moment that you decided this has to change?

Yeah. It is not big like, “That was the moment.”

It is not like you woke up in a hotel room with a new tattoo.

I woke up in a hotel room. The last time I drank, I was in Columbia, Missouri with a friend of mine. We were in a four-star hotel. It is the nicest hotel in Columbia, Missouri. We were doing two shows. I remember I was big and tender in those days. I used to like everyone in town and then a shotgun, “I’m in town.” I did that. A couple of people responded. We get back to the venue. We are backstage and there is a bottle of tequila. I was like, “It would be rude to not drink this entire bottle of tequila before the first show is over.” My buddy was like, “We can space it out all night.” I was like, “Are you a coward?”

You have competition.

With anything. If I can find a way to compete, I will. We get hammered. I ended up texting this girl, “Come through. Here’s my hotel room.” I forget about it. We do the second show. I drink more. We are doing shots with the audience. We go get some food. I come back to the hotel room. There is a girl in my bed. When you walk into a four-star hotel, they know who you are. They are like, “Mr. Patrick, your wife is in your suite.” I’m like, “Okay.” I get up there. There is music playing. I’m like, “Did I leave music on?” I make the corner. There is a girl on my bed. I’m so drunk. I back out of the room to make sure I’m in the right room. She is like, “What are you doing?”

I was like, “Are you here to sleep with me?” She is like, “Yeah.” I was like, “I got a bunch of liquor in me. I’m about to eat this sandwich and I got a dozen cookies. I do not see any time for you at the night. I’m sorry if you traveled. Help yourself to the bar. I’m going to be eating this sandwich and going to bed.” She got so upset. There were three bottles of wine. There was a $49, a $99, and a $250 bottle of wine. She took a glass of the $250 and emptied the rest of all of it down the sink. That is money I’m going to have to pay later. She took the robe. That is $250 if you put the robe on. She took that and bounced. I was like, “A sober man would not find himself in this situation.”

Do you know how I know? I have never found myself in this situation.

I was like, “You need to clean it up so that when this thing happens to you, it is something that is out of the ordinary.” It is not like, “That happened again. I have to pay not only the deposit because she had been smoking cigarettes in my room but now I have to pay this $500 overage for all the wine that I did not even get to enjoy and this robe.”

I can’t even buy anything out of the minibar. It is hard for me because it has such a bad value.

It is such a markup. It is $4 for water.

There is a popular meme going around that says, “I can’t touch a minibar without feeling like it is going to bankrupt my whole family because it is an installment.” You never had that feeling.

I assume once you sobered up and your hangover passed, you had some come-to-Jesus talk with yourself.

The room was at the venue. I had to go talk to the venue owner because I do not even know the guy. I have to go to the venue at 9:00 in the morning and be like, “Is the boss here? You are going to get these charges in there for more than I made. Here’s my check back.” I do not ever want to do that again.

Also, it is putting your livelihood at risk. If I’m the booker, I’m never bringing Brandon Patrick back to town because he is not a professional. We are laughing about all of this and there will be a lot of laughs throughout the episode but it is worth noting that it is a serious issue. It is your reputation. If you are drinking that much and then eating a dozen cookies and that big-ass sandwich, it is not good for your health.

I was probably 100 pounds heavier. I have lost 75 pounds in 2022. I was about 50 pounds heavier at that time because I ballooned up when I moved to Denver.

Does stopping drinking has helped contribute to weight loss?


I would guarantee you.

We will get to get into that a little bit.

Everything is supposed to happen. When you quit drinking, you get more money. I have lost so much money quitting drinking.

I have all the opposite experiences.

Christina, what about your experience with alcohol?

It is funny because my story could not be more opposite. Growing up in Colorado, weed was a lot bigger of a thing than alcohol. I did not even drink until my senior year of high school. It was in a couple of parties I went to towards the end. Most of the time, if we were going to go leave campus and do anything, we were rolling a joint in someone’s truck. It was so much more available.

Alcohol wasn’t primary for you.

It was not. I did go to CU Boulder. You would think that is where I would have my heyday moment but I was working full-time. I commuted so I did not have all the opportunities you would if you lived on campus. I graduated early and that was the moment when it kicked off. I had turned 21. I finished school in three and a half years. My friends were all still in. When I wasn’t working and doing homework afterward, then I went wild because when they were finally done with class, I was open. I felt like I had so much time. It is all this pent-up waiting for the moment.

You had to be so responsible.

That is what it was. It was a little bit of, “I got to let loose.” I went a little crazy. It is not out of the ordinary for a twenty-something but it was pretty often. I was happy hour-ing every night and going out every weekend. Quickly after, I got a job where I had to entertain. It was in the building industry. It was on the roofing side. I was going out with these guys that could drink nonstop. My tolerance level got crazy high. Opposite of you, I very quickly noticed how chubby I was becoming. It was the alcohol. I always ate a lot more once I drink. I’m a big beer and wine person. Those craft beers are insane. It is 300 calories each and I wasn’t drinking 2 or 3. I was going all night on it.

To give perspective, I have a friend who is a proud solo. He is making some changes in his drinking. He wants to lose some weight. He is in his early 50s. He lives in Maine. He would regularly have 3 or 4 pints of beer and that is the equivalent of eating a loaf of bread calorically. It is pretty impossible.

It is probably sugars too. That was a big reason why I wanted to change out of that job. I remember having a conversation with my boss one night after going out. I was exhausted after the meetings, putting on the show, and everything. I was like, “I do not want to do this anymore.” She is like, “What do you want to do?” I never thought I would say this because I liked traveling but I was like, “I got to get off the road. I got to go home, cook some meals, not drink, and sleep a normal schedule.”

The biggest part of that was alcohol. Towards the end of that job, I did not switch immediately. I went to Vegas for a whole week with that same crew. It is amazing what a difference it made doing all those same night events and everything not having alcohol on the books. It was a night and day experience for my energy level. I did not get sick. I always got sick after every trip. I lost weight while I was there.

This prompted a job change for you.

I love my company but I was like, “I do not want to do this role anymore. It is too much.” Ironically, right at the end of that job when I did do the week in Vegas, it was like, “I can do this without drinking.” There was a lot of other stuff. I was also tired of eating out and everything. The alcohol was a huge factor that if I would have cut back a lot sooner, I wouldn’t have burnout.

What about nowadays?

As soon as COVID hit, I was like, “I’m not going to drink at all and be so healthy.” I thought I only socially drink because most of the time, I am eating, drinking with people, or going to happy hours. It is always a celebration, but then very quickly, I realized, “Christina, you just love wine,” because I was cooking at home and I would always pour myself a glass of wine. Most of the time, I have maybe 1 or 2 drinks one night a week.

I want to ask a question because it will segue into my story. It is impossible to talk about alcohol without talking about family dynamics because it is where people often get exposed. Their parents are role models for better or for worse and so on. What about each of you in your family dynamics around alcohol?

My mom did not drink because her parents were alcoholics. Certainly, she did not drink around me. Interestingly enough, I was talking about the first time I walked. My dad had a Jack and Coke. I got into it and drank some. We moved across the room and then I walked to him. He was like, “If you can do that again and walk through those tiles, I will give you another sip.”

You were rewarded with alcohol and soda for your first steps.

From the get-go, I did not have a chance. They did not drink around the house. They kept a wet bar when I was sixteen-ish. Slowly, I would get into that. You replace it with water. I noticed that over the course of the year, they did not notice. I was like, “All this shit is mine.” They weren’t big on drinking.

It skipped a generation.

You created those.

This is a me-problem like a me-thing. I have always made sure to be efficient. If I can do anything sober, I can do it drunk at the same proficiency level. It is the same with being stoned. I’m so competitive and intent on people not being able to say, “You are using that as a crutch.”

Does this say more about how well you can perform while drunk or how poorly you perform while not drunk?

It is both and how competitive I can be.

How about you, Christina?

One side of my family is very religious and hardly touches it. They will have a drink with a holiday meal or something but it is not something that was ever around. The other side of my family is a long line of alcoholics. It doesn’t skip a generation. In every single layer, there are some people. It is always interesting at family celebrations because some of the fun is the alcohol. It is fun. I have a bunch of older siblings and stepsiblings. We always have beer pong tournaments.

That doesn’t mean we are getting drunk, but there is always some basis around alcohol. It is interesting because we have those people in our family too who struggle with it. My grandmother has been sober for twenty-something years. She hit a point and that was enough. She is around it. It is fine. It doesn’t have any effect on her but we have other members of our family that I have always wondered if we should have that dynamic around.

I remember my dad when I was in my little jetting moment at the end of college and going a little crazy calling me and asking me how my hangover was. I was like, “It is so bad.” He is like, “I love that.” It is because the problem he thinks is that so many other family members do not have that instant punishment so it spurs it on. I remember thinking of that when I had that job and having these reflections around me.

Did you have the angel and the devil on your shoulder?

I had the extreme. On my mom’s side, I had that one time when someone said they wanted to talk to her about me completely unrelated and she was like, “It must be about her drinking.” This was when I was going crazy. Anything to her seems like a lot. I had the other side that thought I was the lightweight of the family.

You are the responsible one.

I am the responsible one but it was a lot of contrast.

I asked that because my story is a little bit different. I will keep it brief because I want to get into the meat of this. I did not start drinking until I was 25. I got methodically drunk on my 21st birthday. I had never had any alcohol prior to that. My rationale was that my father had an alcohol problem. It was a contributor to my parent’s divorce, the chaos in the home and so on, although it wasn’t as much of a problem as my mom made it out to be. Nonetheless, it was a contributor.

They were a terrible match. They were going to get divorced no matter what. My mom blamed it on the alcohol. In my mind, as a teen, alcohol is bad. Two things happened. One was I was like, “If I never drink, it can never have an effect on my family.” Ironically, I do not have a family but the logic was sound. It is still true. The second one was that I got into sports. It seems at odds with everything I was trying to accomplish.

I took it far. I stopped drinking soda and eating candy. By the rules of the day, I eat very well, which is horrifying by today’s rules. Nonetheless, I was trying. I was an extrovert. When I went to college, I could go to a party and have a good time, and because I had never drank, I did not know what I was missing, which is alcohol is fun. It also has this social lubricant. It would have helped some of my inhibitions, especially dating and so on, but I was out having a good time.

When I left New Jersey, my friends made a little journal for me where they wrote stories, notes, and so on. When I went back and looked through it, many of the things were them lamenting their designated driver. That was my thing. I could round up the group and get them home safely. They are like, “Who is going to get our drunk asses home?” I got drunk on my 21st and 22nd birthday. It dabbled a little bit. Around 25, it started to become a little bit of a regular occurrence.

My 30s would be the time that I had problems. Problems are strong words. There were moments of abuse but never a problem with addiction in part because I waited so long to do it. If I was sixteen and got into it, perhaps we would be having a different story. It is being too hungover and perhaps getting sick from binge drinking. I have some less than proud moments with one-night stands, sloppy hookups, and so on, things that I’m not proud of that I wouldn’t want to replicate.

If I could go back and undo them, I would. In my 40s, I started to pull back, and then more recently, I have pulled back. A lot of is for straight-up health reasons. I haven’t had any negative consequences from drinking beside a bad night’s sleep or a little bit of a hangover or something in many years, thankfully. I feel fortunate that I waited. There are minor regrets about some of the things I do. I’m glad I tried it and realized it was not exactly right for me. I do not need to be in a place where I have zero alcohol in my life although I might get there someday. I’m not going to rule that out.

I’m there now. It is like, “That wasn’t the problem.” Now I can handle alcohol. If someone comes over, I can pour beers. If someone poured a beer poorly in front of me, I was like, “You got to do this.” I had no desire to drink the beer. I can be around it but I have no desire to participate. I’m like, “Maybe that wasn’t the problem. Maybe I’m an asshole.”

Let’s talk a little bit about the benefits, which sounds like a weird word. Why do people do it? Why were you doing it so much?

I still do it. It is fun. I love how I feel after a drink. It is the perfect in-between a lot of the time. Pete knows this. I cook at home and I feel great. I’m dancing around my kitchen. I’m a little loose. It takes a little bit of edge off. Honestly, I love certain kinds of wine too. For me, the taste is huge. I would never be one of those people that is like, “I’m trying to be on a diet. I will switch to vodka soda.” For me, it is too much that I also like the taste. I’m not going to get alcohol without the other part of it.

There is an aesthetic element to it.

It is delicious.

I made my list so I have that.

Many things revolve around alcohol too. It is rare for me to be invited to something and there not be drinks.

It is not a prominent part of it. It is not even just that it is available but it is a prominent element.

We were talking about happy hours. I can’t think of how many times I went to happy hours and it is like, “We are going quick. We are not even ordering food. We have enough time for one drink.”

It is fun and a little bit disinhibiting. You like the taste and the aesthetics. Also, it is a shared experience. Would you add anything to that?

As a comedian, I loved having stagers or a drink on stage so that I can extend in silence, but I’m doing something. I do it with water but water is less exciting. If I’m getting drunk or they feel like I’m getting drunk, they are like, “He is going to start loosening up now.”

It tells its own story.

You get to play with those expectations. Also, dating has gotten more difficult because they want an explanation and it is like, “I just had to slow down.”

I would add one other thing to what you two observed and that is there is this level of engagement that happens around alcohol. I have had a former guest who’s into beers. He collects beers or collects beer experiences.

It is a good icebreaker.

There are people who are into wine and talking about wine and people who are into cocktails. Anytime you go to a hipster cocktail bar, they will tell you all the stories about where this was sourced and so on. In the same way that there are people into coffee and fashion. There is this engagement knowledge element to it. I get that.

I’m at the point, thankfully, where I like to make a cocktail or order a cocktail rather than having whiskey on the rocks. The making of it is fun. It is fun to make for other people. When I host a game night, I make cocktails for people. You have your little stir, strainer, ripe cherries, ice, and all that stuff. You are in a moment and you are engaged. Also, you give this thing that looks pretty, tastes delicious, and feels special.

It is like baking.

That engagement factor can get people into it. In some ways, they are good and in some ways, too focused on that. You could build a hobby or interest in something that doesn’t destroy your liver in that sense. Let’s talk about some of the costs of an alcohol-fueled life. We can start with financials. Brandon’s story aside, alcohol is incredibly expensive. You go out to one of these hipster cocktail bars.

A regular old-fashioned is easy $15. If you would let that hipster bartender talk you into a different spirit, it is $20. That is for one drink, plus a tip and tax. That adds up for the average person so fast. We can agree on the financial costs. I’m at the point where I go out and have one drink. Now you go out and you have 3 or 4. If you are an alcoholic, you have eight. Now you are dropping $100-plus to almost $200 on a single night of liquid.

Comedy clubs have a two-drink minimum.

The cheat code for that is club soda. I encourage people to order a club soda when they are in that situation. It is a two-drink minimum. People interpret the drink as an alcoholic drink.

That is on purpose.

What are some of the other costs or downsides?

I’m less productive the day after drinking because there is the time that I have to recover. You have to take inventory of what you did. Where’s my car? There are a lot of issues that you can run into and legal costs if you do something insane.

DUIs are no joke. I have a lot of female friends. They date and talk about men having alcohol problems. I immediately asked them, “Has he had a DUI?”

Way more people have had them than you think if we start asking.

If you have a DUI, it is a very strong predictor that you are an alcoholic. If you have two, there are no doubts that you are an alcoholic because it is so painful that if you get a second, you have a problem that you can’t regulate.

You live a consequence-free life. I have a friend who’s got three of them. It is because his parents can bail him out of anything. A lot of people have multiple DUIs. It is like, “How did you not learn that lesson?”

In this day and age, there is no reason to be driving. It is too accessible to get a Lyft or an Uber. If you are drinking and driving, I think you have a problem because it is a mental thing that you do not think you are at a certain point.

Do you know how drunk you have to be to get a DUI? That means that you have to get noticed. If you are getting multiple of these things, you are drinking and driving a lot. It is not appropriate to drink and drive.

I can see the first one easily. There are times I have had two drinks and it affected me way different than another time. I have started driving and I’m like, “If I would have noticed how I was feeling, I probably wouldn’t have done this.” Everybody or most people have been there. It is the multiple situations where it is insane.

This also connects to crime more generally. Alcohol fuels an incredible amount of crimes like assault, sexual assault, drunk driving and violence. Alcohol makes people aggressive. It reduces their inhibitions. It is striking how badly people treat each other when they are drunk. That also has an effect on relationships.

It changes your emotions greatly. That is a lot of it. For me, it is not the night I ever worry about drinking. It is always the next day. It is not even the physical hangover. The emotional hangover gets me the worst.

What do you mean by that?

After being at such a high, I hit my deepest lows if I have a heavy night of drinking. That is the worst part of drinking for me more than the stomachache, headache or anything like that.

I will be frank. One of the reasons that I have curtailed it incredibly is that I do not feel like the next day is worth it. I’m good at having a good time sober, thankfully. My mornings are the most productive and most important part of my day. My sleep is incredibly important to me. I very rarely wake up and would think, “That was worth it.” In some ways, it is a young person’s game in that sense, and because I did not drink when I was young, I never had the benefit of being hangover-free. It is not even a hangover per se. It is that lethargy. You wake up during the night and feel crummy. I remember I was talking to someone and they said, “Do you know the best hangover cure?” I said, “I do not think there is a hangover cure.” The guy said, “At 3:00 PM, you can get started again.”

Cardio is the most painful thing to do when you are hungover but it kicks it faster than anything else.

Mine is a steam room.

It is the same thing. You are sweating it out.

You bring a ton of water in there and push a bunch of water through you. The fact that you have to go to a steam room to detox suggests it is not worth it in that way. What are some other downsides that you would add to this list? We have the financial cost and the cost to society.

I’m going to go back to the financial cost. When I drink, it is not just how much alcohol costs. I eat way more. If I’m out, I will order an appetizer and the main dish. Normally, I wouldn’t even be able to eat that much. God forbid, I go home and search on Amazon or start doing anything else.

I have heard about this phenomenon of drunk online shopping.

I have it, whatever that condition is. If I drink too much, I will spend a dumb amount of money. It is not even the cost of alcohol. It is all the other things that I get excited about and I think it is a good idea that I do not think is a good idea when I’m sober.

Going back to the reputational cost of it, people will associate you with drinking if you are always drunk around them. You go to someone’s house at 2:00 in the afternoon to hang out and they are like, “Do you need a drink?” It is like, “It is interesting you use the word need right there.” You start picking up on these things. It is like, “These people think that I have a deeper problem than I have. Maybe I should re-examine my relationship with alcohol.”

It is part of your brand at that point. They are instantly talking to you about it.

You are the party guy or the fun guy. This is a tip. If you think you have a problem, you probably do. If you do not think you have a problem, it is worth asking a friend like me, “Do you have a problem?” A friend like me will say, “Let’s talk about this.” Your friends often see what’s happening and know, not always but in many cases. I invited Christina on here because I do not think she has a problem. Could you imagine if we did an intervention right here?

I did worry for a second when you said you hadn’t drank in years. I was like, “I’m the opposite. He invited me. What does he think?”

Oftentimes your friends know you well enough. They love you and care about you. They will say this and it helps to ask.

Especially with prompting because sometimes they are biting their tongue. When you say, “What do you think of this?” It is like, “Finally.” If you are dating someone that sucks and you never ask them, and you are like, “Is she rude?” “She sucks. I can’t believe you are in this marriage.”

I have to make a correction for the record. I have talked about alcohol a lot on the show and how you are drinking sugar. One of my listeners, Kesha, reached out to me. She is like, “That is not true.” I’m going to read what she sent, “The health issues are very real in terms of sleeping and weight gain. It is bad for your heart and liver.” Kesha writes, “Alcohol is the fourth macronutrient but it has no nutritional value so we do not count it. It does however contain seven calories per gram of energy. It adds to your caloric intake more so than carbs and protein.” All you people who think carbs are the devil and then you drink, there is an incongruity there.

“Another thing about alcohol is that it is a toxin. The liver has to process it and will bump it up to the front of the line ahead of proteins and carbs. Normally, when you eat, your liver processes the food and converts it into glucose to feed you. When your liver processes alcohol, your blood sugar levels go down if you’ve had more than a moderate amount.” We are not talking about having a drink with dinner. This is drinking more. “It goes down because the liver is too busy dealing with the ethanol it needs to get rid of.”

Your liver is designed to remove poisons and toxins from your bloodstream. When you drink alcohol, your liver goes, “Here is a bunch of stuff trying to kill us. Let’s bump this to the front of the line.” She says, “The confusion comes in the form of mixed drinks that contained sugary mixers like juices, sodas and simple syrup.” For example, in Old Fashioned, which I do admittedly like to make and occasionally have, it is bitters and simple syrup or a sugar cube with whiskey on top of it, and then a maraschino cherry or an orange peel, although I do a lemon peel. If you have an Old Fashioned, there is a lot more sugar in that than if you have whiskey on the rocks.

“Most wines are dry and contain very little sugar. Exceptions are dessert wines or fortified wines that have a lot of residual alcohol. Many spirits like vodka have no carbs at all.” To your point Christina, if you are so boring, you want to have something that you enjoy. “Moderate drinking won’t do any harm since the amount of ethanol is pretty low if you have one drink. A lot of people have trouble sticking to 1 or 2 drinks on occasion. That is where the problems occur. Too many calories and too much ethanol get converted into acetaldehyde over time.” Thank you, Kesha, for this public service announcement.

It is interesting. I coached lacrosse for many years to college kids. We once brought in a speaker to talk about alcohol and his argument was no more than three drinks. That is simply what’s his message to these guys, “Limit yourself to three.” It was a pragmatic decision. We are never going to get a bunch of lacrosse guys who are in college to not drink. We just have to keep them from binge drinking and all the health effects, violence, bad behavior, blackouts, hangovers, and so on. Three for them is the equivalent of one for us in the sense.

I will add a couple of things here. Almost 95,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually. Most of them are men. It is 2/3 men. This is much more of a male problem than a female problem. It is making alcohol the third-leading preventable cause of death in the United States. First is tobacco. The second is poor diet and physical activity. As you might imagine, these things are correlated. If you are a heavy drinker, you are probably more likely to be a smoker. You are less likely to be active. You are not as likely to be eating well and so on. That is very real.

To your point, Brandon, the next day stuff is like, “Are you missing class and deadlines? Are you struggling with your work? Are you disappointing people?” All of those things are happening because you would normally be up at 8:00 and now you are up at 10:00 and so on. A quick thing is it is easy for us to be very jokey about this. I do want to be clear. I’m sure there are people here who have a real serious problem. Alcohol is among the five most addictive substances. Guess what’s on the list. Alcohol is 1 of the 5.

I’m guessing nicotine.

Nicotine is incredibly addictive.

Maybe opioids and pain medicine for pain management.

There are barbiturates. I do not know enough about my drugs.

Barbiturates are in that class because that is what Johnny Cash was doing. He would want to go down instead of up.

There are nicotine and barbiturates. There are two more.

Screens maybe. We are addicted to phones and TV.

Heroin is more addictive than screens.

It is also an opioid.

There is cocaine. These are the top.

Four out of five is not bad.

Cocaine surprises me but I guess if you are chasing that feeling.

I don’t know. That is outside my expertise.

I feel like I was never addicted to cocaine. I just did it a bunch.

I have never done cocaine but we were talking about this at one of my holiday parties. One girl was like, “I loved it. If there was anything I was going to go back to, that is it. I did that a whole bunch.” I’m like, “Now I know because it is in the top five.”

If you are reading and you are struggling, one of the best places to start if you do not have a therapist is to get a therapist. There is a range of options that exist from traditional therapy to AA and beyond. If you are struggling with alcohol, do not hesitate to reach out to me. I am willing to help because it can have such a profoundly negative effect. We went through this, your relationships, finances, health, work and happiness. In that way, you could see how the costs can very quickly outweigh the benefits if you find yourself having an unhealthy relationship with this highly addictive yet culturally appropriate and encouraged substance.

When I see my family members, it would be so easy for me to drink all the time. I love it. If I’m being honest, I would drink it with every meal if I could have a glass of wine with every meal. It is just that I know I shouldn’t.

In the simulation, if you run my life 10,000 times, a nontrivial percentage of the time, I have an alcohol problem. I was set up for it. I have the genetics from my Irish Catholic family. I had a chaotic household, lacking supervision in many ways. I have a positive reaction to it. I do get crazy hungover. I can easily see a world where alcohol is a regular part of it. It might even become a real problem with it. I’m sympathetic in that sense. Let’s talk about drinking alone. It is part of the reason I asked you to be on the show, Christina, because I know you like to have a glass of wine while you are cooking. You enjoy your solo activities. A glass of wine is a lubricant for those solo activities. When you do drink too much, is it when you are alone?

Most of the time, it is social because it escalates. It is encouraging or the night goes longer. Usually, I sip on one for so long and then it is like, “I might as well order another.” When COVID started, I thought, “I won’t drink at all.” I did have a night or two where I did it to myself. I was alone and working on a project. Before I knew it, I had spent hours there and kept filling up my wine glass. I wasn’t obliterated the next day but I was foggy and hungover for sure.

That is something that never usually happens when I’m alone and having a glass of wine with dinner. I will take a glass up. The thing is I got to bring the glass out to the garage with me when I’m working on my projects, not the bottle because sometimes I will slowly fill it up. You do not realize how much you are drinking. I have to have something that clearly makes me realize how much I’m pouring and how many glasses I have had.

How about you, Brandon?

I almost never drink solo. It doesn’t increase my enjoyment of solo activities so I never did it. When I’m alone, I like to sit and listen to records. I would rather get high and do that. If I get drunk, I will fall asleep or whatever. Sometimes I would drink alone if a girl is coming over and I’m a little nervous about it. I have always been able to talk myself out of it, “You do not want to be drunk when she shows up. If you are this excited about the day that you need to dull your whatever, you need to re-evaluate that.” Solo drinking has never been a problem. When I’m in public, I have a drink and I’m sipping and they are like, “Are you just going to have one?” It is like, “I will show you.”

It is people buying you drinks. Someone will come to me across the room. This sounds like I’m getting hit on. That is not what I’m saying.

I have the same problem. It is people sending drinks my way.

Do people send one onstage?

All the time.

It is the same thing, not that I’m always on stage. Especially at a lot of work things that are bigger with at least 30 plus people, there will see me drinking in the corner and talking to someone. They’ll bring over one and be like, “I brought you another whatever. I have been wanting to catch up.”

There is this reciprocity. I buy a round and you buy a round. Now there are three rounds that wouldn’t have happened if this tit-for-tat thing was there. There is also this thing of the person buying wants to drink. The reason I brought up drinking alone is that this is a show for solos. These are people who often spend a lot of time alone in solitude. Solitude is a wonderful thing. It is a nice complimentary place to spend time, especially if you work a very social job, if you are an introvert, if you are engaged in creative endeavors, if you are an artist, and if you are making things. Solo people often are comfortable with themselves.

The conversation around alcohol has changed. It used to be the case that if you drank alone, it was a signal that you had a problem. Yet when I deconstruct a lot of problems that people have with drinking, it is often the social stuff that gets encouraged, licensed and so on. On occasion, I will make a cocktail for myself. I went through a little bit of a phase where I would have half a glass of wine or half a whiskey on ice around 8:00 or 9:00 PM. I did it for a while and liked it because it changed the mood. Also, as someone who has a tendency to overwork, I can’t work. Once I have alcohol, there is no work getting done. It is a signal, “The day is over. It is time to relax.”

For me, my wine feels like a treat. I do like dry wine but it is still something a little sweet at the end of everything. It is the same with sitting on my porch at the end of the day. I came home and I have been rushing around. It is a moment. It feels like a dessert or a little top-off.

Humans have been altering their emotions in psychology for as long as we know, whether it be caffeine, psychedelics, cannabis and nowadays, barbiturates, heroin and cocaine. It is not out of the ordinary to want to do this. I do not believe it is necessarily bad to alter your psychology, emotions and perspective. There is a long history of it informing artistic endeavors. It is to have fun, relax and do these things. There are plenty of things that we do.

Sitting in a hot tub, exercising and going out in nature can have these same kinds of effects. I want to be careful that I’m not being judgmental about people who do this. The question is when it crosses over. I want to give you an example to level set for a moment. Eighty-seven percent of adults drink. It is very high. That is drinking. That is not drinking regularly. This is according to the information superhighway. That is where I did the research.

If you have a glass of wine a day, you drink more than 70%. What seems to be very moderate puts you in the top 2/3 of drinkers. One of the things that I encourage people to do, and I do this, is I track various elements of my life, including drinking. If I get to three drinks in a week, I go, “Whoa.” That is my personal number. If it gets to that point, I go, “This is a big week,” in that sense. For the average person, that is nothing. I just wanted to give people a sense of this. You’ve decided, Brandon, you are not going to do it at all for now.

I go back and forth. I miss tequila and bourbon. I used to enjoy the actual taste of them. Those are fun. Now that I’m wrapping up a major project, everyone is like, “Let’s go have some drinks.” It is like, “I do not want to do that.” I have noticed how often drinks are used as a bargaining chip for an audience. If someone wants to talk to me after a show, they will buy me a drink.

Buying you this thing means they get some of your time. It is like, “That is a negotiation you made, not me. I do not accept your offer.” I’m in a weird spot where it is like, “Now that I know that I did not have the problem that I thought I had with the substance and I’m in therapy, let’s figure out what the actual root and if there is a way to consume healthily. Let’s see what that looks like.”

Let’s suppose someone goes, “I’m going to be better off drinking less or not at all.” It might be fewer drinks or fewer episodes or they decide it is no more. What are some best practices to help someone make that transition? The first one is to recognize it and get a real sense because it is easy to be hazy about these things. Until I started tracking, it was easy to be like, “It was a light week.” In the morning, write down, “I had five drinks last night.” For the person who wants to make this switch, what advice would you give them?

If it is social, once I was trying to taper off that other job, I had to do the mocktail. I needed to be carrying something so no one else brought me a drink. Even when we sat down at a plated dinner, there was someone that was always coming and refilling. I had a customer that always ordered shots. I was like, “If he orders shots, mine has to be water. You can bring me one.”

You were hacking this.

In that environment, it was easier for me to not explain it. I do not know why people give people such a hard time for it. For a while, it got easy because I was training for so many things. I did my Half Ironman and I was doing different marathons. I was like, “I’m not doing it. I’m buckled down.” People let up. It is awful that we put people in that situation.

That happens all the time. I see it happen. I have had friends that are pregnant and do not want to say that. We shouldn’t have to know. It is none of our business. They do not want it. I always carried a mocktail and wasn’t even refilling it all the time so I could sip on it. People would see something in my hands so they wouldn’t try to fill me up with something else.

One of the things that we do on the show is to rail against people who make assumptions about what our desires are with regard to relationships, “Are you seeing anyone?” That is a well-meaning question but it has a whole bunch of assumptions. The “Why aren’t you drinking?” question has this very similar feel. It can be in some ways insensitive, not knowing if someone does have a problem or not knowing if someone doesn’t have to be explaining their behaviors.

People have health issues. There are a million things that are sensitive subjects that you shouldn’t have to explain.

I will add one to this, especially if you find yourself having a real problem with abuse. My sense, Brandon, is that you experienced some of this. You might need new friends and people whose alcohol is not a big part of their lives. One of the challenges that drug addicts and alcoholics have is that they do not have any friends who are also on the level. You might have to either have a hard conversation with the people who are supposed to love you and be like, “I’m not drinking anymore. I’m going to have one drink. I appreciate it if you did not bother me over any of this,” or find people like us who aren’t going to push you on these things.

One of the things that helped me was I would always have a friend that I’m like, “I’m trying not to drink. If they offer us drinks and it gets weird, let’s bail.” Now that I have projects in the work, I can be like, “I can’t drink. I’m trying to film this show. If I get fat or bloated, then it is not going to go.” Being in entertainment, that is an easy out for people. They are like, “Okay.” It is having someone there like, “We got to get up at 8:30.” I would bring openers on the road for shows that do not drink to moderate my drinking. It is like, “You are getting this money for the show and I will give you $100 if you can keep me out of trouble.”

You put your money where your mouth is.

I’m also competitive. I will do like, “You have to drink to have fun. I’m so fun, I do not need that, but that is cool that you need that. I’m over here being awesome.” It is having an accountability buddy and an out like, “I have to go do dot, dot, dot.” It is like the Half Ironman. No one is going to mess with that.

To your point, the environment and the people in your environment are huge because changing that job changed it drastically for me. I did not have to have an excuse or anything. It wasn’t part of it. I worked at a company in the building industry. We always went for happy hours. I’m not bashing that. I had great times in some of those. I worked for an active company and people would go for a run together after work. It is the stuff you want to be included. It is what you are surrounded by. It makes such a big difference.

With that in mind, I want to thank my friends, Christina and Brandon for addressing this important topic. Cheers.


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About Christina Martinez

SOLO 114 Brandon | AlcoholChristina Martinez is an outdoorsy DIYer living in Denver. She holds a degree in Marketing and HR from the University of Colorado.

Christina spends her free time with her dog, cooking and restoring her 1968 Dodge A-108.



About Brandon Patrick

SOLO 114 Brandon | AlcoholBrandon Patrick is a stand-up comedian, storyteller, and host of Burritos with Brandon.