Washington: A new study has suggested that the discomfort experienced during a hangover has very little influence on when a person decides to take his next drink.

Thomas M. Piasecki, from the University of Missouri and a corresponding author for the study, and his colleagues recruited 386 (196 males, 190 females) frequent drinkers, oversampling for current smokers, to carry electronic diaries for 21 days while reporting on drinking behaviors and other experiences.

Analysis was performed on data culled from 2,276 drinking episodes, including 463 episodes that were followed by self-reported hangovers in the morning-diary entries.

Piasecki said that their main finding is that hangovers appear to have a very modest effect on subsequent drinking and on average, the time between drinking episodes was extended by only a few hours after a hangover.

Piasecki explained that he and his team looked to see whether there were particular subgroups of drinkers who might show distinctive patterns like ‘hair of the dog’ use, but they didn’t find clear evidence for that.

He said that participants made a diary entry each morning, and they were asked to rate their likelihood of drinking later the same day and it was striking that ratings made on hangover and non-hangover mornings did not differ.

Even when the drinkers were acutely suffering a hangover, it didn’t seem to affect their conscious drinking intentions, Piasecki said before adding that the study reflects the fact that drinking behavior is determined by a host of factors, like day of the week, opportunity, and social plans.

Piasecki explained that their findings fill in a basic piece of the puzzle concerning hangovers and alcoholism, and if hangovers don’t strongly discourage or punish drinking, links between current problem drinking and frequent hangover seem less incongruent.

If hangovers don’t generally hasten drinking, we can rule out a direct causal role of hangovers in the acceleration of problem drinking, instead, the findings encourage them to think about alternate hypotheses linking hangovers and alcoholism, such as the possibility that hangovers are good markers for other risk factors, such as a propensity to lose control over drinking or individual differences in alcohol sensitivity, he added.

The study will be published in the online-only issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

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