Hangovers Have No Effect on Alcoholics, Study

By , UniversityHerald Reporter

Hangovers don't really have an effect on alcoholics' drinking pattern, according to a University of Missouri and Brown University School of Public Health study.

Until now, many people believed that hangovers can either delay subsequent drinking due to nausea, dizziness and headaches or hasten drinking to ease the side-effects (known as 'the hair of the dog')

But the latest study found that hangovers neither avert nor encourage drinking. It seemed to have a very modest effect on subsequent drinking.

"People who drink heavily generally experience pleasurable effects while drinking, and that is what drives the decision to drink heavily again. The pain of hangover is temporary, and may be considered a nuisance rather than an important negative consequence," Damaris J. Rohsenow, a professor of behavioral and social sciences at Brown University School of Public Health, said in a press release.

Rohsenow said that previous studies have showed how young drinkers do not think of hangovers as a negative experience and hence keep drinking.

The Missouri researchers conducted experiments on 386 (196 males, 190 females) frequent drinkers. The participants were asked to constantly record their drinking behavior for 21 days in their electronic diaries. A total of 2,276 drinking and 463 hangover episodes were reported during the study period.

The experts found that even when drinkers suffered uneasiness from drinking; it did not affect their intention to drink later that day. Participants, who were hungover, only waited for a few hours to drink again.

Participants were also asked to speculate on the likelihood of drinking later in the day. The researchers observed that the ratings made on hangover and non-hangover mornings hardly reflected any differences.

Even though previous studies have shown that university students drink more to relieve hangover symptoms, this study did not find any evidence of 'hair of the dog' use.

"Our findings fill in a basic piece of the puzzle concerning hangovers and alcoholism. If hangovers don't strongly discourage or punish drinking, links between current problem drinking and frequent hangover seem less incongruent," Thomas M. Piasecki, a professor in the department of psychological Sciences at the University of Missouri, as well as corresponding author for the study, said.

Piasecki further said that the finding will help medical professionals rule out the role of hangovers in the speeding up drinking problems.

The findings will be published in the 'Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research' journal.

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