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Have You Ever Felt Remorse After Drinking?

by | Johns Hopkins 20 Questions | 4 comments

(0.20) Everyone feels remorse sometimes
(0.41) My remorse
(1.21) Why I quit
(1.38) Stupid trip
(3.04) You won’t regret quitting

This is the fifth question of the Johns Hopkins 20 questions: “Are you an alcoholic?” …the question asks: have you ever felt remorse after drinking?

Remorse After Drinking and Fear of Reputation

Most drinkers feel remorse. There’s the type of remorse for saying something stupid or doing something stupid. Then there’s the remorse for drinking too much, usually accompanied by headaches and your insides feeling like they’ve been put through a spin cycle on an ancient wonky washing machine.

The worst type of post-drinking-remorse is linked to a fear about the loss of our reputations. You wake up in the morning and think “Oh shit, I hope that was just a nightmare”!

Sometimes it’s the remembering

If your hangover is very bad, you might not be thinking too much about what’s gone down the night before. You’re far too busy feeling sorry for yourself and saying ‘Never again’.

As the worst of the hangover feelings fades into the past, you begin to remember some of the highlights from the night before, some of the things you’ve done or said. It’s that remembering that triggers your stomach to sink, also known as remorse.

If you’ve really pushed the boat out, gone overboard, and drowned yourself in your poison of choice, you might not be able to remember very much at all.
You experience a whole different level of remorse.
Should you be sorry for something you’ve done? …
Something you’ve said?…
You’re afraid, nervous to even get out of bed, everyone knows that sheepish “Good morning” to your partner who’s banging around in the kitchen.

How many times are you going to drink so much that you actually crash your brain, like it’s some cheap Dell PC.

Time to Quit?

After too many of these remorseful days, I gave in, I quit.
It’s not the only reason I quit, there are hundreds of those, but it has to be up there with the best of them.

Here’s a quote from the American writer Richard Bach, author of the excellent Jonathan Livingstone Seagull:

“Some choices we live not only once but a thousand times over, remembering them for the rest of our lives.”

I have many shuddering memories from my days of drinking; some of them I think about panic… have I still got that kind of stupidity in me?Remorseful-seagull
Many of them will stay with me for the rest of my life.

One of my more moronic memories will haunt my nightmares, both sleeping and awake. When I think about it, I always see my son. Firstly because he’s around the same age as I was, so I hope he’s got more sense. But more sickening is if that dumb-assed stunt had gone wrong, he wouldn’t have been here at all!

A few of my mates and I decided, for the fun, to take a trip across the Irish sea to Hollyhead, a port and small seaside town in Wales. I don’t know if they still do the trip, but at the time… about 25 years ago, there was a daily return sailing that departed from Dublin at 9am and arrived in Hollyhead for 12.30pm. You had 3 hours before the return trip.

Mostly, day trippers would use the service for cheap electrical goods (tv’s, stereo’s, etc.) and the duty free fags and booze. We were just looking for a day out on the lash.

We started drinking as soon as we got on the ferry in Dublin. We went on a pub crawl in Hollyhead and just made it back to the ferry before the doors closed. Once we’d bought our duty free we went out onto the deck.

You could buy whatever duty free you wanted on the boat, but were only allowed to land so much once you arrived back in Ireland. So we would buy a few crates of beer just for the crossing.

The thing that makes my stomach turn, even now as I’m writing this, was acting like a complete suicidal gobshite and standing on the railing with my arms out like a tightrope walker. One jolt and I’d have been over the side, and in my condition that would have been that.

Not long after that, a few of my mates went to Spain for a holiday, I couldn’t go because I didn’t have the money. They rented a self-catering apartment in Marbella for a week. One of my best mates drank too much, got onto the railing of the balcony just like I’d done, and slipped on to the concrete below.

That was the first funeral I’d ever been to!

Remorse is Part of Life

Everyone has remorse about things they haven’t done.

The less hair I have on my head, the more regret seems to well in my heart.
There’s no point to most of it. You can do nothing about the past. As Wayne Dyer says there’s no such thing as coulda, shoulda, or woulda. They are all things you can’t do.
You can’t shoulda not gone out the other night.
You can’t coulda done it differently.
And never listen to someone who tells you they woulda done it differently… because not here on planet Earth they can’t.


That’s what you CAN do. You’ll never feel remorse for doing that!

This is an article in a series posts on the Johns Hopkins 20 questions which was designed for you to self-test and discover if you might have an alcohol problem. If you answer yes to this question and yes to some of the others in the test, you need to take a look at your drinking habits. You can find the master article here:


Leave a message below if I can offer any help at all in your fight with alcohol.

Until next time…
Onwards and Upwards…

Download the Transcript

Have You Ever Felt Remorse After Drinking Transcript

Watch the First Videos:

Is Drinking Making Your Home Life Unhappy?
Do You Drink Because You Are Shy of Other People?
Is Drinking Affecting Your Reputation?


  1. Danny

    I have serious issues with alcohol but just cant stop. I thought 11 months in prison would be enough to make me stop but it hasn’t. … I always fight when drinking . I start fights with people sometimes who are not even looking to fight. This is followed by tearful hangovers… somtimes in a police cell.. I feel as if I cant go on the day after but a week or 2 later I do it again… the problem is. I absolutely love sitting in a bar with a pint. I know its sad but I just love it so much even tho drink has pretty much destroyed my life

    • Kevin O'Hara

      Hey Danny, I had the same thing, I loved sitting in a bar with a pint in front of me. I would do that all day long if I could. To break free from alcohol, you have to break away from that. It is an illusion, a comfortable ritualistic habit. It takes a while to get away from it, even now after a year and a half I get my odd moment, but it’s just a trick of the mind trying to get me back to a ‘cherished’ part of my past.

  2. Tim

    An interesting and enlightening post. Unfortunately, I can relate to much of what you have written. The anxiety I feel the day after a drinking episode is really debilitating. What a lot of people don’t understand is that bad things don’t always have to happen when drinking to make it a real problem. I have often thought that I could be locked up in a padded cell when drinking and feel every bit as emotionally strung out as I would had I done something really damaging the night before. That’s because the alcohol is a neurotoxin that acts as a depressant. Of course, the reality is not drinking in a padded cell. A normal evening will consist of time spent with friends or family, along with several drinks. Regardless of how hard one tries, there will always be an of color joke or a comment that that pushes the proverbial envelope. And this results in significant stress the next day, stress that can only be alleviated by having another drink. Perhaps fortunately for me, the anxiety that I feel is accompanied by a fatigue unlike anything I ever experience under any other circumstance, so I don’t get drunk the next day because I can’t keep my eyes open long enough. That’s more or less my saving grace, because I would be in really bad shape if I would get drunk while already hungover.

    • Kevin O'Hara

      Thanks for sharing, Tim!


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