Autism & Social Hangovers – My Autistic Experience with Alcohol & Social Anxiety

All right, everybody, so I wanted to share with you this week about something that I personally experienced before I found out I was Autistic, and then I noticed it even more once I realized I was Autistic and that is a social hangover.


Hey, everybody, NeuroRebel here, and this week, we’re going to talk about social hangovers.

[00:00:06] Social hangover, like what’s that? Is that a thing?

[00:00:11] Let’s dive in.

[00:00:47] All right, everybody, so I wanted to share with you this week about something that I personally experienced before I found out I was autistic, and then I noticed it even more once I realized I was Autistic and that is a social hangover.

[00:01:06] I’m going to pull an official definition off the internet so that people know I am not making this up.

[00:01:13] “A social hangover is a feeling of other depletion and introvert experiences after too much socializing. Symptoms include grouchiness exhaustion and difficulty concentrating dot, dot, dot.”

[00:01:24] Okay, there’s more to it, but I just wanted to throw that out there and also this definition says “introverts” but I don’t think this is exclusive to introverts and we’ll dive more into that in just a second.

[00:01:38] So social hangover, what do I mean by this? Well, What I noticed I was experiencing was when I would go out, especially with larger groups of people for long events and outings or networking happy hours, where there was just a lot of socializing all at once, the next day and sometimes longer than that after, I would wake up feeling like I had a literal hangover,  only I wasn’t drinking.

[00:02:12] So I would wake up and feel very sluggish and tired and worn down a bit burnt out that next day.

[00:02:19] I would also have literal headaches and the funny thing about this is when I was younger, I would drink to cope in social situations because it made them easier for me, because it was kind of numbing me to a lot of things that would happen in social environments – my anxieties with other people and the sensory environment and it would relax me and cut the edge off a bit.

[00:02:47] But that is not a healthy habit because I was putting a band-aid over a situation by going to situations that I was uncomfortable with so that my solution to that was drinking. Which is not the current relationship I have with alcohol anymore, but when I stopped drinking, I realized I was still having these hangovers from going out to social events, even though I was no longer consuming alcohol.

[00:03:19] So, Hmm. Maybe it was never the alcohol giving me a hangover to begin with.  I don’t know.

[00:03:26] I don’t drink very much these days. I realized in my late twenties, around the time I was diagnosed Autistic, that I also have some other co-occurring health conditions that can be aggravated by alcohol.

[00:03:40] And the signs were always there because alcohol doesn’t react well in my body, it really upsets my sensory system and a lot of times I get really dizzy and nauseous and get vertigo before I can even consume enough to get drunk. So drinking really isn’t even that fun for me a lot of the times.

[00:04:00] I might have one or two here or there if I like the taste of something, but I am no longer drinking to numb anything. I I’m drinking because Oh, this tastes good  and because I am a legal adult in my thirties, I’m allowed to do so in moderation.

[00:04:16] That’s a bit off track, but I have social anxiety diagnosis. So the point is the alcohol was a big part of me ignoring the fact that I had this social anxiety and not coping with that issue, which I think is much, much less of an issue now than it was  four years ago when I was diagnosed Autistic with co-occurring social anxiety.

[00:04:43] The point I was trying to make is sometimes, when you drink alcohol, it puts fatigue on your brain and your body, and then the next day, you may not be your best, especially if you went overboard and had too much alcohol.

[00:05:00] For some people, when we socialize and go overboard, our brains can get tired and exhausted and overwhelmed and then the next day will over-perform.

[00:05:12] I mean, underperformed, not over-performing. I wish that’d be nice. Well, actually, probably not right in the middle let’s stay where it belongs.

[00:05:21] Anyway, it’s like alcohol it’s very similar. The brain is tired the next day from socializing.

[00:05:30] Why do I think Autistic people can be so tired after socializing?

[00:05:35] Well, from my personal experience, I would say that masking had a very big part of that for me, because when I would go out and socialize, a lot of the times I was wearing the mask, I was masking and trying to compensate and I was “on” all the time.

[00:06:03] Masking is like acting and if you’re masking an acting for however many hours straight, that’s really tiresome because your brain is working overdrive, overthinking every minute of it, and by the time you’re done, goodness, you just want to collapse. You know?

[00:06:30] Social hangovers are not something that is unique to Autistic people. Actually, if you Google social hangover, you’ll get a lot of introvert websites talking about introverts, experiencing social hangovers. I’ve also seen this spoken about a bit in the HSP or highly sensitive person community.

[00:06:54]Whole nother video topic right there, the introversion and highly sensitive people in relation to neurodiversity. I have a lot of thoughts on that. Let me know if you’re curious about those and maybe we’ll talk about them.

[00:07:04]This is not a phenomenon that is unique to Autistic people, but not everyone experiences this.

[00:07:13]Let me know. Have you ever experienced. Something that could potentially be called a social hangover?

[00:07:23] If so, what was it like for you?

[00:07:27] How long did your social hangover last?

[00:07:31] I don’t feel like my social hangovers tend to last that long. Usually if I go out one night, I might have a social hangover the next day. Although, if I did like a long weekend with a group of people, I might have a social hangover that would last a bit longer after that.

[00:07:53] Tell me I’m not alone. What is this like for you?

[00:07:56] Share your experience because, like I often say in my videos, each and every Autistic person and their experience as an Autistic person is going to be different from the next, so I would love for you to share your comments below so that we can learn from each other.

[00:08:16] To suggest a topic for an upcoming Neurodivergent Rebel video – drop a comment below.

[00:08:23] I’m always looking for topics and suggestions for video ideas, for the things that you want to learn about. I don’t do these videos for my own health . I do these videos to educate.

[00:08:35] So tell me what you want to learn. I’m here to help you.

[00:08:40] All right, humans. Thank you so much for joining me this week. I am so grateful for each and every one of you. I could not do this without your support. If you found this video – video helpful, please consider subscribing so you don’t miss another video because I do put them out each and every Wednesday and if you found it educational, hit that share button because, hopefully, someone else will find this educational content helpful as well.

[00:09:12] A huge warm thank you to my Patreon supporters and Facebook subscribers for being the wind beneath my blog’s wings, you are a huge part of my ability to continuously put out high quality content with transcriptions and closed captioning and all of the things that the NeuroRebel readers and viewers have learned to expect.

[00:09:44] So a huge thank you to you. I could not do this without you, actually, you guys get to see these videos early. So you probably saw this video a month before it was released to the general public. I can’tthank you enough, but I hope that helps. I am so grateful.

[00:10:02] All right, everyone. Thank you all for being here. You have a wonderful rest of your week. I will see you next Wednesday.


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3 thoughts on “Autism & Social Hangovers – My Autistic Experience with Alcohol & Social Anxiety

  1. Ohh yes, a social hangover is most definitely a thing. Husband gets it when he’s socialising a lot – the next couple of days he feels really tired and drained from it.

    One instance of this was when we attended his friend’s wedding – I felt he did amazingly well, as we arrived at 2pm, ceremony was delayed so didn’t start until 4pm, and we then didn’t leave the venue until almost 10pm. He really worked hard on engaging and being involved with everything, as that’s what you do at a wedding.
    The next day he slept as long as he could before we had to check out from our hotel, he slept on the whole train journey home (two hours), fell asleep in the taxi ride home, and then slept from 7pm until the next morning.
    Socialising for so long just wore him out.

  2. my partner and I have a joke about me from pre-pandemic days. He always wanted to visit the Saturday morning farmer’s market, exactly when I wanted/needed to stay in bed not talking to anyone. The compromise was simple: he would go to the market and leave me to recover alone after the work week. I only recently realized my Saturday isolations are social hangovers from having to navigate people at my job all week. If it was a bad week it could take an entire weekend of quiet for me to recover. Working from home due to the pandemic has been an incredible relief. I am very lucky to have a job where I can do this.

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