My Views on Booze

Is there a relationship between ADHD and drinking? Probably. Is it a good idea to drink at work? Probably not.
Treating ADHD Blog | posted by Bill Mehlman

Alcohol is unpredictable. Paradoxical. Dangerous. Exciting. Destructive. Medicinal. You never know if it's going to give you a lift, or send you spiraling down.

Or if it will give you a lift and then, when you're feeling more optimistic, throw you into the Slough of Despond (which is from Spenser, with an "S," like the detective). At what point will this sudden reversal take place? After four beers? Ten? Three six-packs? A case? Who knows?

What I do know is that, under certain circumstances, alcohol counteracts the symptoms of ADHD better than anything else. Before you start screaming, I'm not suggesting Martinis with breakfast. I know that when I was a working chef, and my daily routine involved unremitting pressure and enough distraction to disrupt anyone's thought processes, a couple of beers would help me narrow my focus appreciably. I'm not clear why.

I've been writing about the idea of noise lately, and this is one of the clearest examples. Two or three cans of beer over the course of a five-hour dinner service would, without any question, help keep me concentrating on what I was doing. I could also keep an eye on my crew, without getting distracted.

All the other garbage in my life got off stage, as it were, leaving me to knock out seven different scallopine dishes, a couple of pastas, three zuppa di pesce and four steak pizzaiolas, all cooked to different temperatures, naturally. I was also, in one part of my brain, listening to incoming orders and, out of the corner of my eye, watching to see that the servers grabbed the correct orders. The more frenzied the action got, the more I could drink and still stay on top of things.

I must admit, at this point, that if I'd stepped over the line, and gotten mildly hammered, my work began to suffer. And frequently, I'd finish my shift, feeling good about the night's work, run down and change, and head home, only to feel the cumulative effects of the alcohol hit me right behind the ear, leaving me to wobble down the street. Once the pressure was off, there was nothing to counterbalance the beer sloshing around my brain, and I was toast.

I've got more to say on this subject, but I think I'll wrap this up for now.

I'm thirsty.

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