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Nights Out With Narcolepsy

Here in the United Kingdom, the legal drinking age is 18. We Brits are known for loving a good night out, whether that’s a night in the pub or dancing until the early hours of the morning. Turning 18 is something everyone looks forward to, so they start going on nights out. It was something I was very much excited about.

However, when I turned 18, I was going through the early stages of being diagnosed with narcolepsy. I had not long had my first sleep study and, therefore, during this period, I was unmedicated. Narcolepsy was still new to me, and I was not yet aware of the ins and outs of it all.

Nights out as an 18-year-old

I was 18, ready to go on nights out with my friends and drink alcohol like any other teenager. So that’s what I did, and I really enjoyed it. I didn’t even give the idea of narcolepsy being a problem a thought.

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Overall, I managed nights out pretty well. I mean, being totally honest, I would binge drink like the majority of other 18-year-olds and end up in some drunken states.

Adding narcolepsy medication into the mix

Just before I went off to university, I started taking medication, modafinil and venlafaxine. Again, I didn’t really think much of how this would affect my drinking, so I continued to drink like normal.

Before being on medication, when I was drinking, I was always happy and bubbly. I was very much the type to talk too much, hugging everybody and loving life.

Changes in my personality

However, when I got to university, after some time, I started to change when I was drinking. I was no longer the happy, bubbly life and soul of the party person. I was having breakdowns, inconsolably crying, and getting into arguments.

My personality changed a lot, and I think it was potentially a result of the interaction of the medication with alcohol. Again, it was something I never really considered because it was all new to me. I just assumed that it wouldn’t really change anything or have an effect on me.

Unsafe situations

Apart from my personality changes, I was putting myself in dangerous situations. I was traveling home in taxis alone after a lot to drink, and being overtired meant that I was in and out of consciousness. This happened in nightclubs, too. I would sit down and end up being in and out of consciousness.

I was drinking like all of my friends without narcolepsy, drinking like I didn’t have something that would affect my consciousness and ability to be alert at the best of times — never mind adding alcohol into the mix. It’s worrying now to look back at the situations I put myself in. I underestimated the impact of narcolepsy and nights out and drinking alcohol.

Now I am more aware of how to stay safe

I am a lot more sensible now, more aware of how narcolepsy affects my drinking and vice versa. Most importantly, I am much more aware of how to be safe. I’ll post another article with my top tips for safe nights out with narcolepsy. These will be things I have learned and now stick to on nights out.

Read the next installment of this article with Bella's tips for nights out here.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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