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What's up with the "drunk" feeling-just curious!
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What's up with the "drunk" feeling-just curious!

So, I've talked to several people with MS (I'm not yet diagnosed, who knows if I will be...) but from time to time I experience a feeling like I have drank several shots of alcohol without actually ingesting it...To begin with, I have a very LOW tolerance to alcohol - I'm 22 and I waited until I turned 21 to even have my first sip of alcohol. Anytime I drink alcohol now, which I haven't in MONTHS, even a few sips totally knocks me out and my balance issues become worse. So, needless to say, I stay away from alcohol totally, but unfortunately, that doesn't even seem to help me because I'm still dealing with the 'feeling' of being drunk! :-) BLAH!

Anyways, I'd like to hear others views on how they describe this 'drunk' feeling or is how I explain mine:

When my 'attacks' of balance and vertigo come on, I compare it to feeling "drunk" without really ingesting the alcohol. It affects my balance and perception more than anything, and I cannot stand up without leaning up against something. When this happens, I feel VERY unbalanced and I feel 'odd' sensations in my body, too, more so the 'drunk' feeling I'm talking about - like an out of body experience...I really cannot explain it. I have actually tripped and fallen down 3 times already in the past 3 months. One of the times I felt almost paralyzed on the right side of my body. These 'drunk' feelings are worse if my body temperature goes up, I always feel so hot, and it is just the weirdest thing, and the difficulty swallowing happens as well. If any of you know what the Romberg's sign is, I compare the feelings I have while 'drunk' as those when I close my eyes during the Romberg's and bam! Down I go!

What does everyone think, or what are your experiences??

Thank you all! I'm so grateful for this site. I'm done with classes in 2 weeks, and finally am getting a 2nd opinion (for those of you who have been following me). I'm calling my PCP this week and go from there...Know how grateful I am for all of you.

Deepest respects,
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Hi Aleah,
I almost constantly have the off balance feeling - mine is usuallly not the *drunk* sensation but rather the *elevator* feeling.  I have that constant sense of motion.  When I have the drunk version my staggering can be very impressive.

When I do have an alcoholic drink it usually makes my staggering and swaying worse.

Good luck with the 2nd opinion.
Hi there,

My drunkeness feeling has diminished, thank the good lord.

Mine was, inability to talk, slurred words.  Felt like I was walking sideways. I would get sensations that would last for seconds at a time and at that time I would lose my motor skills, couldn't react, think, etc.  There is no way I could of consumed alcohol - though no-one may have noticed the difference ha/ha.  

My swallowing was affected, but it really wasn't the swallowing wasn't the primary issue.  During the sensation, I would have to "think" through the chewing and swallowing if that makes sense - in order to make it actually work. Nothing was natural.

I'm happy to be on the wagon, lol...though I know it's not funny.  

Hope my story gives you hope that you may very well see much improvement from this.

I am so much like sllowe that it is not funny.  When I am having symptoms, and do have a drink, I look drunk.  I, like you, waited until I was older.  I was 22.  My tollerence is low also. Keep us posted on your second opinion.

BTW, I was really having a problem with this at the beginning of my last relapse.  Within 2 wks. of the solumedrol, the problem went away.  I can now have a glass of wine and be completely normal.  
All of the above for me: drunk, elevator, walking sideways, room spinning, rocking, tumbling, and six falls so far, though my worst bruises have faded away.

A friend asked me recently, "Didn't we pay people years ago to sneak us substances that would make us feel that way?"

I am thankful to God that He led me away from alcohol many years ago.  There's nowhere in the Bible telling us "Thou shalt not drink," of course, but in my experience, abstinence has been the safest route.

Now, if they come up with something that would safely and reliably take that sensation away, I'd be all over it.
Thanks for your responses. Now let me ask this, do you feel like you have to sit down as the 'attacks' come on? That is the only way I get mild relief, more so because I don't want to fall, and secondly because I feel safer sitting down, but the 'drunk' feeling still accompanies me. This is why I am praying to GOD that I get a diagnosis or at least a med to get rid of this is truly terrible!! I don't like alcohol to begin with, so the feelings associated with this without drinking the alcohol is terrible!!!! People tease me and say, "wow, you're a cheap drunk then!" But, I don't find it funny one bit! No one seems to understand - now let's hope I can get my PCP to understand this week and the next neuro. without him/her telling me, "Well, you probably had a stroke...see ya later!"

I've had days when all it seemed I could do was to lie on my back on the floor.  Sitting down hasn't always done it for me; I've had waves of it come across me while seated, too.
Yep, me too, also occasionally I have had the feeling that the ground has a suddenly sloped away when I have been walking on a flat floor. This is often accompanied by the spinning world feeling and the drunken stagger.

I have not drunk alcohol for 19 years strangely enough at about the same time that I had my first bout of ON - it just makes me feel quite ill and dizzy if I just have a little.

Hi, I haven't had alcohol for more than 22 years, so imagine how disgusted I feel at being so dizzy and fuzzy-headed that I feel drunk at times!

I'm going to see a Oto-neurologist and will begin vestibular physical therapy next week, and am hoping that it will help, at least some.

I sometimes have the feeling that there's been an earthquake, or that the floor is moving, but more often, I feel off-balance, and tend to bump into walls, especially going around a corner.  My vision seems blurry, though all my neuro-opthamalogical tests showed nothing wrong.

It often feels like one eye drifts off to one side, unfocusing things more.  Sitting doesn't help; I'll find myself leaning to one side, and still feeling all fuzzy.  As for out-of-body, I think I can relate.  I can be sitting talking to a friend or watching TV, and notice that I haven't been tracking what's going on.

This seems to be worse when there's a lot going on; like a busy, noisy restaurant, or the cat meowing while the TV's on and my roommate asks me questions or comments on the show.

It's definitely all worse when I'm more tired.  I went to a multiple art exhibition thing at the Convention Center this weekend; glass, ceramics, fine metals, hand-made fabrics, etc.  After seeing and hearing so much, and walking quite a bit, I suddenly needed to go home.  Too much sensory input; the smell of hotdogs they were selling made me feel really sick, like too much tequila sick (never liked tequila, lol!).

My roommate had bought a couple of ceramic birdhouses that are to be mounted on bamboo poles; I used the bamboo poles as a cane to keep from losing my balance totally.  Luckily, she was tired too, so we left.

At my most blurred (sounds like a good descriptive word for the combination of fatigue and vertigo), I've slurred my words.  I wouldn't consider driving even slightly blurred, as I know that my reaction times are much slower.

Only my latest neuro suggested that my brain lesions might be from tiny strokes, thus causing my symptoms.  I consulted with my cardiologist, who faxed a report that shot down that theory, then did another test that ruled out a hole in my heart, and faxed that report.  I think strokes are off the table, for now at least.  :o)

So, there's some of my story.  I wish you well with your classes, your PCP, and your second opinion.

Take care,


I wish you well with your diagnosis journey - never easy.  I've experienced balance issues that are a trip.  I suddenly veer off to one side and become quite familiar with a wall - or person - or floor.  I have no warning and it's so weird.  I guess it's similar to losing your balance when drunk, but I've never really related the two.  When the episode is over, I feel "normal" again.  These times come in groups and then It doesn't happen for a while.  I think it correlates with my flares.  One time I even went backwards - that was different - I kept staggering back until I fell.  When it happens in public it's so embarrassing!  Even when the people you're around know you have MS, it still makes you feel like a clutz!  There's just no way around it.  I use a cane and I can't say it's very helpful in these cases.  It becomes more of a dangerous weapon as I flail about!  It must be quite a sight!  I hope you get some answers.

Blessings, Jan
I spent four months feeling drunk - sometimes almost-passing-out drunk, sometimes just a little tipsy.  Not only vertigo, but also just a constant brain fog, like I didn't know what was going on.  Very similar to the drunken feeling, actually!

Finally the vertigo started to ease up just a little bit.  The brain fog got better - but not completely better.  I still have days where the dizzies come back, and I run into walls, or have a problem walking a straight line.  On those days, I just sit down.  Sometimes I'll sit down on the couch and close my eyes, and take a mini-nap.  It doesn't take long for me to recover, if I'm going to recover.  If I don't feel better, I call in sick!  Or crawl off to bed.
My father has MS and what I consider a drinking problem. It's not that he drinks too much but that it only takes 1 or 2. My step mother and sister get on him pretty bad but don't seem to understand. Im 28 and been with him from the start. On the same token, he should not be drinking if it makes him this way. MS can't be his excuse to be outrageous while drinking.   I'm not trying to get on his case but I do worry. I don't know how he feels on a day to day basis or if this drunk feeling is there.

Does anyone know of any studies that have been conducted regarding alcohol and MS? With that, any personal positive experiences with supplements that you suggest?


I am so sorry for your concerns for your dad, a lot of MSers are easily affected by alchohol though that wouldn't be classed as a drinking problem persay. Btw this post is not about actually drinking but the balance issues and vertigo that are connected to MS, they make you look and or feel drunk and some even sound drunk if their speech is affected too and thats even though you havent touched a drop.

I think you might of misunderstood what everyone is saying, because of what you feel is a problem with your dad. Is it possible the small amount of alcohol he has is not getting him drunk but just making him look and sound more like he is because its affecting his already MS affected balance etc?

Personally If I have half wine and the rest lemonade, it still makes everything more pronounced, i am not drunk by any stretch of the imagination but I am sure to someone who doesnt understand MS it would apear as if I am. I actually feel a little concerned for your dad, if he is drinking to eccess that IS a problem, 1 or 2 isn't a drinking problem!  

Wouldn't it be rather tragic if he was getting in trouble by his support network, for things that are because of his MS and really have nothing to do with being outragous or drunk, I do hope for his sake that isn't the case.

I haven't had a drink or drug in almost twenty years.  I don't remember what it feels like.  But I do know what you are talking about.  It's scary and you should get a second opinion or a first because what you are experiencing not normal and any doctor who says it is must be drunk himself.

Good luck.  I was just diagnosed with PROBABLE MS.  

Started Baclofen for leg spasms and stiffness.  You are too young to feel this way naturally.  My symptoms started around your age sporadically and I just chalked it up to my body clearing up after alcohol and drug abuse.  Looking back I can see now that it was the MS symptoms starting.

Good luck.
This 'drunk' feeling is one of my main symptoms/problems. Though after nearly 4 years I am learning to handle it ok.


What exactly causes it? What IS it? I've been told everything from migraine aura (yeah right - for 8 months?) to the lesion on my cerebellum.

But WHAT causes it? (Yes I know MS, but specifically)
One of my first symptoms of MS was walking off balance-into walls. It never went away-some days are worse than others. I use a cane which really helps me balance. I use it if I'm going to be walking a lot or a distance. I also become more unbalanced when there is a lot of stimulation around me-like at the mall, crowded places. I have to sit and my symptoms become more pronounced. My Neuro says my imbalance is due to where one of my lesions is. I feel ultra unlucky because I am not able to do so many things because of the imbalance. I don't drink anymore because having 1 drink is like having 3. I don't like feeling out of control.
I originally thought I had a stroke in the beginning because I suddenly had high blood pressure and I figured that since I wasn't on meds it might have caused a stroke. After several MRI's they found lesions. I hope you don't have to wait too long for a diagnosis.
Take care and just know that you're not alone in this!

A lot of the time, it is lesions on the brain stem or in the cerebellum.  Balance and coordination is a dance that depends on many sensory inputs with the brain sending involuntary muscular movements to compensate for minor deviations.  Many people with MS have sensory problems that cause muscle spasticity.  The same sensory problems can cause failure in balance and coordination.  

Engineers refer to this as a "failed feedback loop."

I went through two years feeling like I was drunk, and acting like I was drunk.  Slurring my words, walking into walls (my steering was off by 15° - every single time I aimed for a doorway, I would hit my right shoulder on the doorframe.)  Plus I had serious vertigo and a constant buzzy feeling in my head.  It felt like I had a buzz on, all the time.  Then there's the balance issues - I don't know which way is up with my eyes closed.

And yes, I had a large lesion in my right cerebellum, and lesions in my brainstem.  I also have lesions in my spine.  The spinal cord has a proprioperception tract that helps you orient your body up and down, and when that tract is disrupted, the body doesn't have the information it needs.
I sound like Sllowe --- I can now have a glass of wine or two where I nearly didn't drink for about four months or more months. I still have my limit and then my everything get so far off it isn't relaxing any more.

Based on my symptoms, I am also fairly certain I have lesions in my cerebellum and like my brain stem. causing this despite not being diagnoses.
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